Amp up Employability Skills with Service Learning
Would your students benefit from further developing their non-technical skills so critical for successful employment? Consider the role service learning could play in fostering these important virtues!
At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, we certainly pride ourselves in our students’ mastery of technical skills. After all, we are a technical college. Yet, for professional and personal success, our students need so much more than knowledge, practices, and procedures. They need skills that are more difficult for employers to train, such as:
• Demonstrating flexibility in the face of change.
• Collaborating among cross-functional teams.
• Prioritizing a variety of tasks.
• Taking direction from others.
• Communicating effectively.
• Making tough decisions.
• Meeting deadlines.
• Assisting others in need of help or training.
• Researching solutions to problems.
These relate very much to NWTC’s employability skills. They are transferable and so vital, but often challenging to cultivate in the classroom. Service learning can be a real solution for encouraging student success in their future employment and personal lives.
The accounting program includes a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service learning project for the Computerized Tax class. Students have the opportunity to serve the community and receive credit toward the course for their certification to prepare income taxes, as well as their volunteer tax preparation time. In the process, they are able to elevate not only their technical tax preparation skills, but also a host of non-technical skills.
I have witnessed the amazing transformation of students apprehensive about getting involved at all to confident, self-reliant individuals, completely comfortable with their skills and interpersonal abilities. From problem-solving new tax situations in a real-world setting, to managing time and explaining tax consequences to taxpayers, this project has equipped students far beyond the typical classroom experience. With encouragement and support, students can learn to better prepare themselves with the non-technical attributes employers need. Let service learning set the stage for your students’ soft skills success!
by Janet Dausey, Accounting Instructor, Business and Info Technology Division, ext. 3655