Curriculum Meets Demands for Business Needs of a 21st-Century Workforce

The reality of our classrooms today is that our students are being taught core academic fundamentals but our educational system, government mandates, and lack of solid parenting don’t allow time or staff to bridge the gap between school learning and applicability to the workforce once they leave school.

However, as employers are demanding connection between their workforce and schools, should this be a critical component of school core curriculum? According to a recent Iowa Workforce Development report, almost 50 percent of businesses surveyed indicate a workforce that needs soft-skills training and Gallup surveys show more than 85 percent of the national workforce is disengaged, costing companies valuable time, energy, and profits.
 
Global Horizons has taken the requests for a stronger workforce and created a classroom process called Coaching in the Classroom (CIC). The process is based on more than 28 years of experience in business  and economic development at the local, state, and federal level to know what employers are looking for in workers.

Using their book, The Be WUCA! Way, The ART of getting along, CIC guides students in directing their life by creating a classroom learning environment, coupled with solid 21st-century workforce skills, to increase student achievement. CIC also urges students to consider starting their own new business and/or transition into buying existing businesses someday in their communities.

Here are results, how CIC connects classrooms to the workplace, CIC goals and the relationship to 21-Century skills, and the critical importance of classroom relevance to community growth.

In three years, CIC accomplished these measurable results:

Different than learning to build or knowing the details of a specific product for a company, these needed skills are called “soft” because they are less tangible. Skills like show up on time, ready to work. Play well with others. Do your best work - always. Skills known to be critical to a company’s success, we call these “workplace” skills.
 
CIC began as a pilot project in 2009, focusing on 7th – 12th-graders deemed “at-risk” by Iowa Department of Education criteria in two settings: a rural Iowa school district and a metro alternative school. CIC uses powerful relationship-building techniques and goal-setting utilized by championship athletes to develop championship students in the classroom. 

  • High school student population considered “at-risk” decreased from 41 to 12.3 percent.
  • Within months of CIC’s inception, students sent to the principal’s office for misbehavior decreased more than 50 percent.
  • The 2009 freshman class of a school district using CIC established a goal for 100% of their class to graduate together. They achieved that goal in 2013. This accomplishment was so notable that the superintendent commented on it during commencement.
  • 35 percent of 7th and 8th graders met established grade goals set at the beginning of each semester. 
  • Students recognize that classroom work in core areas has direct impact on their future either in further education, enlisting in the military, or by remaining in or near their hometown and joining the workforce.

CIC connects classrooms to the workplace

This connection between classroom learning and workplace skills is critical because habits developed in school transfer to careers. CIC attaches workplace goals to classroom learning by measuring student performance with employer standards.

  • Student attendance and punctuality – employers want employees to show up on time, ready to work.
  • Grades – employers will reward “A” quality work with promotions and raises. An employee may keep their job doing “C” work, but will only maintain their current position. Less than “C” work could cost an employee their job.
  • Standardized tests – employers will measure performance through evaluations at least once, if not twice, per year.
  • Participating in extracurricular activities – employers want employees to know how to “play well” with others. It is imperative that employees know how to operate with a team structure.

When the student understands how their school work is relevant to what is required in the workplace, they can adjust their attitude and actions. 

Coaching in the Classroom believes that all students succeed when their passions, purpose, and goals align with their personal and occupational visions. CIC is the bridge that keeps all students in school through graduation and develops habits in self-motivation and drive for success for today’s global workforce.

CIC Goals

  • Instill entrepreneurial spirit and skills to help students see the possibility of being local business owners and leaders.
  • Strengthen the local workforce by reinforcing the relevance of classroom instruction material to their futures.
  • Improve self-esteem of students when they achieve personal success raising scores and feel more hopeful about their future options.
  • Improve behavior of students in the community.
  • Improve relationships between students, staff, and faculty in school.
  • Improve relationships between the school, students, and the community.

CIC also meets Iowa's 21st-Century Universal Constructs: Essential for 21st-Century Success. CIC teaches competencies and habits needed for future successes in careers, college, and citizenry in all six areas:

  • Critical thinking
  • Complex Communication
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Productivity and Accountability

Classroom relevance to community growth

A primary goal of education is to provide opportunities for economic stability for the rest of a person’s life. Education is a means to find a way that fulfills passions while reaching economic stability. Personal and professional economic stability is crucial for community stability and growth potential.

Connection between a school district and its business community is vital for growth. Local businesses can strengthen the workforce through relevant speakers to the classes. They can identify gaps in businesses needed by the community and look to students to fill those gaps. Business can understand, instruct, and support how high school learning will impact future goals for the student and area opportunities. The community must want to reach out to students to welcome, engage, and recognize the talents they have to offer. Plus, community members need enthusiasm and patience to teach students the skills they need to learn.

By identifying passions and aspirations with all students early in their school careers, ensuring they are welcome and have a place, and helping them determine the steps to make their goals reality, students are more focused, better-behaved and satisfied in school and better prepared to join the workforce.

Agree of disagree? Leave a comment below. Or better yet, to implement CIC in your schools, contact Global Horizons for more information.