Work-based learning and the significance of soft skills’ development
Work-based learning has proved to be of great importance for students globally, offering a real connection between education and the professional world. It comes as an answer to the severe issue of employability and provides the familiarisation of students to a working setting. In our rapidly changing society young people often find themselves unprepared not only to adjust in a professional environment, but also choose the right path for them.
Leaving behind the secure school or University environment and entering the competitive field of job searching, interviews and relationships with co-workers and managers can be very challenging. The hard skills required are numerous and especially nowadays extremely advanced, especially on the technological ground. Besides academic achievements though, the importance of soft skills, has become immense in enterprises globally. Big companies and institutions all around the world are seeking employees with sharp transversal skills, as it is clear by now, that these employees are of great aid for the company’s prosperity, growth and optimum operation.
WBL is the educational strategy that can provide the development of soft skills, so students are much more prepared and ready to deal with challenges and possible setbacks. Through apprenticeships and internships, students work on their communication skills, building a relationship with their mentor and finding ways to become members of already existing teams. They understand the gravity of listening and paying attention to their co-workers, which will be extremely useful for their future personal and professional growth. Being a part of a well-orchestrated team, having to follow certain rules and guidelines, rises their sense of responsibility and reliability.
Students see practically the procedures of problem solving, a soft skill highly appreciated by colossal enterprises, and experience the processes of brainstorming and creative thinking. WBL offers them the opportunity to sharpen their critical thinking alongside their time management skills. Being on time, realising the time needed to complete certain tasks, avoiding procrastination, gradually will grow in them, and become great assets for their future.
During their internships, or volunteer jobs, obviously they might make mistakes, face unexpected challenges, and feel disappointed, which is only natural and expected. They will experience the significance of bouncing quickly back, accepting their responsibilities, if any, and learn from this experience. WBL urges students’ willingness to self-development, motivates them and enhances decision making skills and their conflict resolution abilities.
Soft skills can not be measured and evaluated in the same way as more conventional hard skills, so the need for a quality assurance method compatible for monitoring the process is emerging. In this procedure, the role of school tutors is of great severity. They are the first to appreciate each student’s skills and abilities, and through WBL, help them choose the most suitable professional path, depending not only on their academic achievements, but also soft skills and personality. School tutors need to work closely with the students’ work tutors and mentors, in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the student, but also to ensure the quality of the procedure.