Letter: Workforce talk needed for students, business leaders

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Editor:

Is there a skills gap in the transition from college graduation to joining the workforce? What does the city’s workforce need from new employees? What are students looking for as they enter the workforce?

These were the questions that we were looking to answer during the San Antonio Students Speak Series Roundtable co-hosted by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the National Campus Leadership Council March 30.

The roundtable brought together universities and community colleges, and local businesses were present for the discussion offering a diverse input.

As the first student in Texas to serve on a community college board, I understand the value of student input when making decisions that directly affect us.

While we covered a lot of topics during the roundtable, two ideas really stuck out to me.

The first is one we know by many terms — soft skills, essential skills and universal skills like communication, leadership, punctuality, organization, critical thinking, problem-solving and professionalism.

These are subjective to each business, but most are universally identified as highly useful skills by the companies.

During the roundtable, all of the stakeholders agreed that it is incredibly important that both businesses and academics value these skills, and I’m hoping to incorporate them into the classroom on my campus.

These can also be learned outside of the classroom by being involved in on-campus leadership positions and student organizations. Shared campus governance creates more student-focused goals where students generally feel a greater responsibility and loyalty to their institution bringing both increased success.

The second is improving educational support from businesses for employees who are attending to improve certain skills.

Often times, though, we see that there is a disconnect that occurs when upper management has these values, but either company culture or bureaucratic policies leave employees feeling little to no support to go back to school.

Stakeholders at the roundtable agreed that companies who value education continue to be the desired workplace environment.

This roundtable was a great first opportunity for this group of dedicated student and business leaders to start a conversation about workforce readiness. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation with students in the community colleges in San Antonio as well as San Antonio business leaders.

Jacob Wong

Student trustee

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