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College Program Teaches Soft Skills

Today´s business courses at most educational institutions are designed to teach students “hard skills”, or computer savvy, which are used in office environments. While technology and its applications are essential in conducting everyday business, the “soft skills” are just as valuable but rarely taught.

What are these soft skills that affect employability? Better communication, conflict resolution, team building, problem solving, organizational techniques, project and time management, taking leadership, project presentation/self-evaluation, and other support skills that produce good workers. These are people skills that help develop important basics like attitudes, values and behavior.

Recognizing the void, a group of vocational instructors at Columbia College formed a committee, and selected the “Tools Team” for its name. The organizers are intending to arm students with Career Tools for Excellence, which is also the course title of the two-unit class, which begins in the Spring Semester.

Twenty students will be accepted into the initial program, which will be organized into four teams of five students to take on several problem-solving activities. Teams will be expected to complete project-based tasks and in the process, build an electronic portfolio for each student.

The class will be conducted on Friday afternoons from noon until 2 p.m., and will include a working lunch. Along with a roster of Tools Team course instructors, the “learn and lunch” segment will consist of guest speakers from the college and local businesses, who can provide personal insights on relevant topics.

“We have a number of business leaders already signed up as guest speakers, but we are looking for more to present their areas of expertise to our students. Each talk should take from 30 to 45 minutes,” said Kathy Schultz, a Columbia College computer science professor.

“The Career Tools class is ideal for giving our students an advantage with employers,” said Schultz. “While it´s an investment of additional student time, participants will quickly see its benefits.”

For more information on this program as a student or guest speaker, call the college Instruction Office at 588-5142. For registration details, contact the Admissions & Records Office at 588-5233.