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Lee County 4-H Soft Skills Training Programs

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

This was developed for in-person programming. With combined creativity we can support your classroom in this virtual world and as restrictions are ever changing, when you are back in the classroom.

Is it important to arrive on time for work or be trusted by your employer to do your job well? Is it professionally advantageous for you to show respect for others, make eye contact, or give a proper handshake? What about projecting a professional image on social media? These are examples of your soft skills, defined in the dictionary as “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge and may include: common sense, communication, working with a team, the ability to deal with the public, and a flexible attitude.” Do you remember taking that test in high school on making eye contact or cell phone etiquette? Me neither, and smart phones were still a device of the distant future! So, the question becomes, how can we help young people learn critical soft skills in a time of increasingly impersonal interactions?

Hard skills are measurable and their presence is easy to confirm. You either know how to use a particular machine, perform a task, make a product, or you do not. You passed the certification process or you did not. Hard skills are important for success but less likely to maximize your earning potential without the complement of soft skills. Soft skills, on the other hand, are not easily measured, often making them harder to assess. However, today’s employers are looking for quality soft skills in their workforce and local employers are reporting a lack of soft skills in many candidates applying for positions within their companies. 

The National Collaborative for Workforce and Disability for Youth reported in 2011, “Soft skills are necessary for youth to succeed in education, job training, independent living, community participation, and ultimately in the workplace.” So whose responsibility is it to teach these skills?

In August of 2019, Lee County 4-H asked 38 CTE teachers (Career and Technical Education) for advice on which of these skills they see as most important to teach students in middle and high school and how can we go about it?

Lee County 4-H is compiling curriculum resources to help teachers address this void in partnership with Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Ohio State University. Already all our 4-H projects, trips, clubs, and school enrichment curriculum have leadership, goal setting, career planning, relationship management, personal skill development, and team building goals at their core. We also have a curriculum for classroom use that focuses primarily on teaching about these unspoken workplace norms using the experiential learning model, because “Learning by Doing” is the most effective way for students to internalize a concept.

You’re Hired! If Your Soft Skills Work – This middle school curriculum is available to you through Lee County 4-H. A youth work readiness program targeting middle school aged youth. Begin developing soft skills early the 4-H way as we fulfill our motto and “learn by doing”.

Log on to Leadership – A virtual self paced curriculum developed specifically for at-home programming when in person summer camps became impossible. Leadership requires a set of skills that allow a person to influence others in a positive way to achieve great things. Youth will have the opportunity to develop their time management, goal setting, conflict management, and public speaking skills so they can be better for their clubs, communities, country, and world!

Teen Leadership 20 – an Ohio State developed and field tested 4-H curriculum intended to provide lessons and evaluations to include but not limited to effective communication, goal setting, youth-adult partnerships, inclusion, and workforce development skills. These lessons are intended to be taught by 4-H Professionals to youth.

Emotional Intelligence Training – Businesses, organizations, and schools systems are coming to realize that developing skills to work well with others is important to everything they do. It is important to work well as a team, whether it’s colleagues, adults, teens, or youth. These skills are often referred to as social and emotional intelligence. The lessons are designed to assist all participants in developing their own emotional intelligence and will enhance youth’s work with others. Recognizing and understanding one’s emotional wellbeing, is the first step. Then being able to control those emotions, as necessary, before encountering others is a valuable skill to learn. Finally, assessing the ‘mood’ of others is also an important skill to be learned in working with all types of people. These three steps, well learned, and practiced prior to confronting a situation will assist in communication, timing, and responding to various social situations. These lessons are intended to be taught by 4-H Professionals to youth.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

  • To increase the employability of Lee County School’s graduates.
  • To help youth understand employer expectations so they can retain employment.

METHODOLOGY AND EVALUATION

All 4-H Curriculum employs the experiential learning model, encouraging self discovery, reflection, and application to other areas in life. Evaluations are important for impact reporting and most 4-H curriculum have brief but required pre and post tests to measure results.

experiential chart

TRAINING

Curriculum requiring training uses a train the trainer model and will be virtual.

STANDARDS

See each individual curriculum descriptions