Workforce Skills Development

Thursday, May 26, 2022 No comments
As a learning experience designer there are many things that I am passionate about when it comes to designing courses. One of those passions is incorporating workforce skills into course design. I recently started an unofficial pilot with a subject matter expert (SME) to ensure that we were purposeful in developing workforce skills throughout her course. The course that was chosen for this pilot is a construction management course that focuses on strategic planning within the construction industry. I worked with the SME to incorporate opportunities for students to build the skills needed to be successful not only in the course but also in their future career in Construction Management. The opportunities we built, included, or repurposed are videos, interactive activities, and researched information.

The activities and resources provide both workforce hard and soft skills. In terms of hard skills, these are the knowledge and abilities that an employee needs to perform his or her job duties effectively. Soft skills, on the other hand, are the personal qualities that help employees to thrive at work. It was important that we included both hard and soft skills in order to fully grow the students in the course.


The first step in the process was to convince the SME that this would be a great idea. I made sure I did my research and spoke to how this could benefit students in the present and future. I discussed with her that this wouldn't take a whole lot of time as she was already doing many of these things in the course. The idea was to put the skills in front of the students and develop the skills at a higher level. 

The next step we took was to review the course outcomes and module learning objectives. A discussion about her goals for her students and how we can encourage student growth in the areas of workforce skills was our next topic of discussion. We also talked about what workforce skills her students would need to be successful as they complete the activities and assignments in the course. It was noted that many of the activities and assignments had multiple skills, but we thought for cognitive load that sticking to the development of one skill a module would be the best option. A strategic approach was taken to place the workforce skills appropriately in the course. We looked at all components of the course and where the skills would fit best based on the outcomes and objectives of the course.

It was critical that we were transparent with the students about the workforce development skills, so we built the purpose and benefits into the syllabus. We wanted to ensure to provide the research and data behind what we were doing.

image shows example of what has been added to the course syllabus on workforce skills

As we continued our discussions we wanted to make sure that we presented these skills in a fun and interactive way. It was important that students didn't feel like this was a burden, but yet see the benefit to their future endeavors while having a little fun.

The following short video is an example of how we incorporated one of the workforce skills into a construction management course.

We also thought it was important to include instructional language within each assignment that reminded students that the workforce skill development activities they are completing in each module will help them throughout the course.

In the last module of the course, students are exposed to some of the career opportunities available to them in the construction industry. Each video includes someone who is currently in the field. The videos provide an introduction to the job, loves & challenges, how to prepare for the job, and a few teasers. 

image of a video Project Manager, Knutson Construction

Data Driven Decision Making

Since we are piloting this we wanted to collect data based on the student experience. Below is an example of some of the questions that will be asked to the students. The data we receive will help us in our decision making with course revisions and allow us to reflect and see what is working well and what needs to be improved upon. 

snapshot example showing sample survey questions

Wrap Up

When we began our discussions, our ultimate goal was for the students to be able to acquire the workforce skills in the moment but also develop the skills, so that they are successful in the workforce. It our responsibility as educators to plant the seed and help it grow.

We are excited to learn about the student experience and to see how developing these skills impact student motivation and academic success. Stay tuned for updates!!