NPR Initiative Teaches Students Skills Employers Desire

A recent story in the Tampa Bay Times reported that while tech jobs in the area are booming, employers are having a difficult time filling positions because the applicant pool is short on skills. Curiously, it’s not the technical skills job seekers lack, but the essential skills that are needed to put those technical skills to use.

So what do employers want?

“Topping IT employers' wish lists were candidates who have at least 3-5 years of relevant work experience, bachelor's degrees and capabilities that go beyond the latest technical competencies to show an aptitude for continuous learning and multiple skill acquisition,” said Heather Kinyon, CEO of Tampa Bay Technology Forum. “…These include critical thinking and communication skills, as well as professional curiosity.”

Students often dislike taking general education classes since they don’t see them as directly related to the field they want to study. However, these courses are typically the ones where students get the most practice at developing those analytical, evaluative and communication skills that empower them to continue to develop as learners. Also, they will continue to develop the skills not only over the course of their programs at Rasmussen College, but on-the-job in their chosen careers in pursuit of ongoing self-development. 

In fact, a current initiative on the Rasmussen College New Port Richey campus complements the system-wide Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning, a project undertaken in conjunction with the Higher Learning Commission, to strengthen general education skills in programmatic courses.  Through ‘Empowered Learning’ students can develop the skills they need to be active participants in their learning not just in class, but in life. In this model, knowledge is created, not passively received. 

Developing competency in the following nine critical areas is the key: 

  • Language acquisition and command
  • Written and oral communication
  • Scientific thinking
  • Numeracy
  • Information literacy
  • Audiovisual media literacy
  • Digital/computer literacy
  • Cultural diversity
  • Interpersonal/social literacy

Incorporating assignments that address and assess each competency in every course a student takes will produce students in every field of study who have those in-demand skills employers desire – the most important of which is the ability to continue learning outside of the classroom.  In this way, Rasmussen College fulfills its mission to prepare students for future careers with a commitment to lifelong learning.

External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Cassandra Pauley, PhD, is the General Education Coordinator at Rasmussen College in New Port Richey. She has worked in the field of higher education for more than 22 years. Dr. Pauley has a doctorate in English Literature from the University of South Florida, a masters in Literature from Murray State University and a bachelor's in Communication and Studio Art from the University of Louisville. She has also worked in marketing communication for corporate and nonprofit organizations including The Galbreath Company, American Red Cross and Operation PAR.

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