Q&A with Dr. Cathy McKay: Invest in Your Future Success by Investing in Employability Skills

June 16, 2020

Q&A with Dr. Cathy McKay: Invest in Your Future Success by Investing in Employability Skills

American College of Education recently added a Certificate in Essential Employability Skills to its catalog of certificate programs. We spoke with Dr. Cathy McKay, chair of professional educational studies, to learn more about the value of this bachelor-level certificate and how it can set students up for workplace success.

What is the value of having a Certificate in Essential Employability Skills?

Dr. Cathy McKay (CM): The Certificate in Essential Employability Skills focuses on teamwork skills as well as personal and professional skills. These are skills that most employers want in their employees and that most employees want to improve. With this certificate on your resume, employers will be able to see that you’ve invested in learning the essential skills needed to be successful in their workplace.

Who could benefit from enrolling in this certificate?

CM: Anyone, no matter what type of career or job you have. If you want to focus on building and polishing up your professional and interpersonal skills, this certificate is for you.

The certificate is aligned with Indiana’s Employability Skills Competencies. What is that?

CM: Indiana’s Employability Skills Competencies were built by Indiana’s Workforce Development Team. It’s a compilation of skills many companies identified as crucial to their employee success. And while the report was developed in Indiana, the employability skills outlined are applicable anywhere, in any state and in any profession.

The competencies are arranged by four key standards: mindsets, work ethic, learning strategies and social and emotional skills. Mindset focuses on the attitudes that best impact self-growth and instill self-confidence. Work ethic centers on the importance of doing work and doing the work well, and includes self-discipline, independence and perseverance. Learning strategies affect one’s ability to effectively communicate, make decisions and solve problems. Finally, social and emotional skills feed into the ability to manage goals and emotions as well as maintain positive relationships. Connection and collaboration are two important skills that fall into this competency.

Why was this certificate developed with these particular competencies in mind?

CM: Ultimately, we want to help our students be a successful part of the modern workforce. We looked at research into what employers want most from their employees and built a certificate directly around that.

This certificate has two built-in micro-credentials that students can opt into as long as they take the courses associated with them. In your opinion, what is the benefit of getting those two micro-credentials?

CM: They help reinforce that you have what it takes to be successful in the work environment. The two micro-credentials within this certificate – Teamwork Skills and Personal and Professional Skills – are particularly valuable skills to show potential employers. The digital badge that comes with completing each micro-credential allows you to easily share the work you’ve done with your professional network.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.

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