New transition training boosts employability, communication skills

A new course for transition-age VR consumers focuses on the development of “soft” skills and other characteristics students need to remember as they seek to make an positive impression on future employers.

Smart Work Ethics (SWE) is an eight-part comprehensive training series for workforce employability skills and is designed to deliver information and positively change behavior, attitudes, and work ethics of participating students through proven strategies and positive reinforcements, said Rehabilitation Specialist III Karen Jenkins.


“Smart Work Ethics is delivered through a combination of facilitator-driven content and experiential activities,” she said. “Eighteen certified instructors from local CRP’s throughout the state will provide training in schools to students with disabilities. It’s up to our counselors to promote this new program to the schools and to the schools to work out the logistics of the class schedule, but the impact could be huge if each of our 70-plus counselors makes 15 referrals for the program.”

Statistics show that nearly 80 percent of employers consider soft skills (i.e. communication skills, teamwork, problem solving, conflict resolution) to be just as important as hard skills. Meanwhile, business and industry are reporting seeing a decrease in these necessary skills. According to the book Hire for Attitude by Mark Murphy, nearly half of all new hires fail within the first 18 months of employment, and of those, nearly 9 out of 10 fail for reasons associated with attitude.

The delivery of the SWE curriculum mirrors the training used by business and industry to educate their employees on core job functions, software applications, safety regulations, and general company policies and procedures. The curriculum structure begins with exploring communication skills and exploring the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and classes to follow include: attitude and work ethic development; dress code, hygiene and grooming standards; interpersonal skills; problem solving and critical thinking; organizationals skills; self-management and personal life skills; and skills for job retention, including understanding the temperaments of bosses.

“This is an exciting new program that’s not just a quick fix for getting a job – it’s a lifelong employment strategy,” Jenkins said. “It’s certainly something that all our students can benefit from, and it’s my hope that they all can go through this innovative program.”

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