No Secrets Here: Skills Adult Students Must Have to Enter the Workforce

Posted by on May 31st, 2016

It’s no secret – the workforce is becoming increasingly competitive. Adult learners must be more prepared and empowered than ever as employers seek to remain economically competitive.

In addition to the core academic subjects, a number of skills are necessary to seamlessly integrate into the office environment. Unfortunately, many of these skills are not present in current learning programs.

As an instructor, you have the ability to incorporate these components into your instruction and give your students a competitive advantage in terms of what employers are seeking. Among these sometimes difficult, yet necessary, skills are technology, collaboration, communication, life skills and coping with failure.


Digital Skills

Technology skills are essential for every student as technology becomes more omnipresent in life, classrooms and the workplace. Learners should be computer savvy and well versed on mobile devices including phones and tablets. As the digital imprint expands, many offices are moving away from paper files and documentation. Instead, companies are moving to technology based systems, eliminating material waste and in many ways increasing productivity. Technology allows workers to stay connected and well informed.



Teamwork is an essential part of today’s workplace success. Students should be equipped with skills that lend themselves to being effective contributors to groups. Cooperative learning provides an opportunity for students to think outside of the box, develop and share new ideas and identify creative ways to solve problems. Adult learners must be able to work well with others.



Effective communication is key to any relationship and organization. It is imperative that students are able to communicate well across a number of mediums. Formal presentations, phone etiquette, face to face conversations, meetings and emails are just a few areas in which students should be trained to communicate effectively. Adult learners should also be aware of the nuances that accompany the various forms of communication. For instance, abbreviated short hand may be acceptable via text or instant message, however, formal emails should adhere to grammatical norms.


Life Skills

Balance is a quintessential skill for adult learners transitioning into the workforce. They should be able to successfully balance work responsibilities and personal commitments while keeping all aspects in order. Other life skills include time management and management of personal finances. Completing tasks such as completing tax forms, budgeting and balancing checkbooks are also among the necessary life skills.


Conflict and Failure Resolution

Undoubtedly, learners will be faced with hardships as they enter the workforce. This could be in conflict with a co-worker or through failure on a project. It is necessary for learners to know how to react when faced with these situations. Rather than an explosive reaction or passive response, students should be taught how to learn from a particular experience for success moving forward. Good communication and professionalism will also be key for resolution.


There are several ways to ensure that your students gain the skills that are necessary to transition into the workforce. Assessment will allow you to determine the workforce readiness of your students. Offering career pathways opportunities provides students with a chance to set career goals and gain industry specific skills.

In addition to providing the ongoing assessments and follow ups, attending professional development courses as an instructor ensures that you remain aware of current and changing trends. The knowledge gained through your professional development efforts will allow you to deliver instruction that pushes your students to the edge of competitiveness.

By incorporating technology, collaboration, communication, life skills and conflict and failure resolution into your instructional delivery, you are producing learners that are well-equipped to enter the workplace.


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