Karen Webber, director of OSI’s Education and Youth Development Program recently appeared on WYPR’s Midday discussing the importance of soft skills in the professional world. Soft skills, also called “emotional intelligence” or “character” can include a range of abilities, from leadership or problem solving abilities to written and oral communication skills. Soft skills can also include things like the ability to understand body language, or knowing what personal information is appropriate to share in the workplace. They are more difficult to measure than technical, or hard, skills and while many employers say they are just as important in getting hired, they are rarely taught in a school setting. This is especially true in Baltimore City Public Schools.
OSI’s Education and Youth Development Program has funded a project to address this gap in school curriculum. The project, developed by two educators at Baltimore’s National Academy Foundation School (NAF) –Vanessa Proetto, also featured in the interview, and Jennifer Penn— aims to teach those essential skills children need to not only obtain, but maintain jobs. The curriculum includes role playing opportunities that make the material accessible, allowing students to become the employer and see just how important these types of skills are in the hiring process.
In Baltimore City, where many communities struggle in part due to lack of employment opportunities, developing the kinds of skills employers are looking for is key. This project will advance OSI’s High Value High Schools Initiative, engaging, supportive and accelerated high school options in Baltimore City that would significantly increase graduation rates and post-secondary success, particularly for African-American male students. By providing flexible scheduling, job-embedded learning, accelerated credit accumulation, credit recovery, and other features, High Value High Schools are designed to respond to the needs and goals of high schools students.
Said Penn, “I am excited about the positive direction our youth are headed with the tools and soft skills they need to guide them in making memories and not mistakes.”
Listen to the entire broadcast here.