What do your students need to succeed as skilled technicians?
You might be quick to list a series of technical skills, but what about employability skills?
Employability skills, also known as “job-keeping skills” are overlooked in many programs. However, they can often mean the difference between a student who successfully transitions into new position and one who can’t seem to land or keep a job in the industry.
As an instructor, your goal is to ensure your students have the skills they need to work successfully in the automotive industry. Helping your students develop employability skills as well as technical know-how is just another way to make sure they’re well-prepared for future employment.
The next things to ask are: What skills should you include in your curriculum and how do you even begin to teach them?
What are employability skills?
In general terms, employability skills include tasks like reporting to work on time and working well with others. When it comes to technician training, the ASE Education Foundation also defines a series of personal standards and workplace habits that should be taught. These are listed under program standards as Required Supplemental Tasks.
According to the ASE Education Foundation, the following tasks are listed under Workplace Employability Skills (taken from Automobile Program Standards):
- Reports to work daily on time; able to take directions and motivated to accomplish the task at hand.
- Dresses appropriately and uses language and manners suitable for the workplace.
- Maintains appropriate personal hygiene.
- Meets and maintains employment eligibility criteria, such as drug/alcohol-free status, clean driving record, etc.
- Demonstrates honesty, integrity and reliability.
Work Habits / Ethic
- Complies with workplace policies/laws.
- Contributes to the success of the team, assists others and requests help when needed.
- Works well with all customers and coworkers.
- Negotiates solutions to interpersonal and workplace conflicts.
- Contributes ideas and initiative.
- Follows directions.
- Communicates (written and verbal) effectively with customers and coworkers.
- Reads and interprets workplace documents; writes clearly and concisely.
- Analyzes and resolves problems that arise in completing assigned tasks.
- Organizes and implements a productive plan of work.
- Uses scientific, technical, engineering and mathematics principles and reasoning to accomplish assigned tasks
- Identifies and addresses the needs of all customers, providing helpful, courteous and knowledgeable service and advice as needed.
Why these skills need to be taught
While you might not argue over the importance of having these skills, you might also be wondering why your students don’t already have many of these skills. Do you really need to teach your students that it’s important to follow directions?
Although some of these skills might seem obvious to you, keep in mind that your students may not have any prior work experience, may have held jobs where some rules or practices were widely ignored, or may not know how to apply these skills to a shop environment.
For example, communication is an important skill for students to develop. However, just because a student can provide an answer to a question during class or talk to friends doesn’t mean that student knows how to ask a customer specific questions related to servicing a vehicle, use active listening, or complete a repair order.
How to make employability a part of your curriculum
Some employability skills might seem difficult to teach, but there are a few ways you can begin encouraging your students to hone these skills. In addition to reviewing the ASE-defined skills with your students, find opportunities to reinforce these behaviors by:
- Providing constructive feedback for skills such as speaking or writing clearly
- Helping your students learn how to identify customer needs as well as solve technical problems
- Walking students through automotive-specific reading comprehension and writing skills, including those related to
- Repair orders
- Vehicle inspection forms
- Shop safety inspection forms
- Defective equipment reports
- Lockout/tagout procedures
- Accident reports
Want to provide your students with a more targeted way to develop valuable employability skills?
Consider adding the CDX Employment Readiness course onto your current program.