The work environment is a new stage of adult life that students and students are entering. Although universities make a tangible contribution to the development of workplace skills, schools provide the foundation upon which adolescents will learn. The primary communication skills, comprehensive information retrieval, and exploration are built in schools. Schools are a space where students will have the opportunity to try on different roles and thereby define their careers further. Schools should teach students how to prepare for the workforce.
In many ways, the school environment provides the conditions for developing one of the most critical skills in the work environment. It is the skill of teamwork and effective team collaboration. According to Jimenez (2020), students need to develop both “hard” and “soft” skills, particularly communication, compromise, and merit sharing skills, to increase their value as a team or project member. Team-building skills and vasomotion can be best developed in a school setting and increased time spent with people of different personalities and types. Roberts (2021) notes that schools have opportunities to teach and encourage teamwork through assignments and related academic projects. Therefore, it is suggested that students be assigned student roles that allow them to share group work responsibilities. Most available projects require teamwork in the workplace, but employees working alone are considered counterproductive. Preparing communication and teamwork skills in school will go a long way toward allowing students to fit into the workplace.
The workforce around the world is changing due to changes in technology, which directly impacts the type of skills students learn in school. Quality skills for a job are an essential indicator of a potential candidate, and organizations are looking for people who can do the job at a high level. The direction that candidates use in completing tasks plays a role. Getting the right results at work can be reinforced in high schools and colleges by providing students with the appropriate context for problem-solving and decision-making (Jimenez, 2020). Schools should teach basic critical thinking skills, including information handling and communication skills, interpersonal and self-direction skills, and collaboration skills. Such skills are necessary for students in any field and at all levels of education, enabling them to analyze others, think, and examine the logic presented by peers in the workplace.
Intellectual skills are also an aspect of schooling that can be useful. Teachers’ introduction of additional courses with a critical thinking model enhances children’s preparation for the work environment. Boa, Wattanatorn and Tagong (2018) point out that teachers encourage adolescents’ creativity and teach them design skills. In their view, such skills as the first step of adulthood are best suited to meet the expectations of employers. The structure of education in schools also contributes to this: compulsory and elective courses can vary in the number of hours.
Colleges and universities vary in course offerings from school to school, and usually, all follow the same syllabus. Roberts (2021) believes that the school structure gives students an idea of the future and opportunities to try different options. Traditional vocational and career academies play a huge role in preparing students for the future workforce. Teachers in schools can control students’ activities and give them strategically correct cues based on their skills. The reduced workload compared to a university leaves free time for students to make decisions based on personal feelings.
In addition, students who engage in a balanced curriculum develop better qualities, such as perseverance and the ability to cooperate and solve problems in a friendly manner. A well-balanced curriculum builds a positive view of learning in students. One approach educators should take when preparing their students for the future workforce is a well-rounded education. Technical subjects help students with practical tasks, but they are not comprehensive when taught alone. Incorporating art and music encourages innovation and creativity. In addition, programming skills are necessary for the workforce and are acquired by studying languages, computer science, and technical education offered to students. Studying historical subjects in schools helps students understand the successes and challenges of past experiences, especially inventions. The school environment provides an environment for building decision-making and information-seeking skills and confronts students with their first critical opinions (Boa et al., 2018). It prepares children for a work environment where a critical eye is necessary.
There is an opinion that the school environment is not a launching pad for developing skills for the work environment. The opinion is based on the thesis that the school does not offer a complete and comprehensive space in which students feel free. The COVID-19 experience showed significant shortcomings in the school environment, resulting in the inability to prepare students for the combined remote format (“What school doesn’t teach us about the workforce”, 2020). In addition, schools were not fully equipped with the tools to place students and failed to provide initial internship opportunities. It has been noted that students were under increased stress from moving into a new environment for which they had no preparation. It led to a decline in school education, and they cannot be a launching pad for job readiness. Universities are a better fit because they are more focused and versatile.
In response to this view, it should be noted that COVID-19 conditions have affected all segments of education, not just schools. The crisis was experienced by almost all students in which there was a transition to remote education. Students suffered because of social distancing and psychological pressure, not because of a lack of skills in a work environment. Many technological tools have now been incorporated into the school environment, and students are transitioning to a remote format in which they can reach their potential despite their limitations. More and more schools are using online courses that teach focused skills in marketing, communication, and information technology. COVID-19 has only had a negative impact in the early stages, but there are already positive effects in school education. Based on this, the counterargument that schools should prepare students for the work environment is not liquidated.
Thus, schools have the resources to prepare students for the work environment. It is based on an environment for effective communication between peers and educators. In addition, schools have a unique structure in particular subjects that allow educators to guide adolescents strategically and push them to learn specific skills. Schools should prepare teens for the work environment based on the expansion of core courses and their content and opportunities to choose more subjects. Specific narrow programs give a chance almost immediately to start their first job. While COVID-19 showed that schools are not ready to develop skills for the workplace, the situation is now much better, and there is already an increase in non-disabled students right out of school.
Boa, E. A., Wattanatorn, A., & Tagong, K. (2018). The development and validation of the Blended Socratic Method of Teaching (BSMT): An instructional model to enhance critical thinking skills of undergraduate business students. Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences, 39(1), 81-89.
Jimenez, L. (2020). Preparing American students for the workforce of the future: Ensuring every student’s readiness for college, career, and civic life. Center for American progress.
Roberts, J. K. (2021). What we know and where to go: A systematic review of the rural student college and career readiness literature and future directions for the field. The Rural Educator, 42(2), 72-94.
What school doesn’t teach us about the workforce. (2020). Entrepreneur.