Workforce Ready: Aligning Academic Standards with Workforce Needs

June 21, 2024

With changing trends in employability standards and the skills required for so-called “in-demand” jobs, Nevada’s education system has an opportunity to adapt by further integrating soft skills into academic curricula. Employers now prioritize soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving just as much as traditional academic qualifications, yet soft skills are currently integrated into curricula at a decreased rate. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in Nevada aim to meet this demand by focusing on technical skills and essential employability soft skills, which provide a framework for expansion into all academic programs.

When analyzing the highest-enrolled CTE programs and the highest-employed industries in Nevada, there is one common link: working with people. Research suggests employers across all industries prioritize the following skills when hiring: communication, interpersonal skills, adaptability, resilience, problem-solving, critical thinking, time management, organizational skills, and emotional intelligence. All of these attributes are considered soft skills.

This policy brief examines the intersection between soft skills and employability, as well as Nevada's current approach to soft skills standards. We also look at challenges with assessing and certifying soft skills attainment and provide recommendations for successfully integrating soft skills into students' education experiences.

Read and download the full report to find out more.