Background/Goals

Over the past three years, the Necessary Skills Now (NSN) project, an initiative (DUE #1501990) funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program, has supported integrated instruction around employability skills in two disciplines—Cybersecurity and Advanced Manufacturing. Community college faculty members were paired with employers to develop ten project-based learning modules embedding employability skills and technical course content within industry scenarios. To guide their work, the teams used a six-step process for creating integrated curriculum developed by CORD during the U.S. Department of Education-supported STEM Transitions project. The resulting modules focus on one or more of the following employability skills, identified as critically important by the NSN project’s industry advisory board and supported by business literature from both targeted disciplines.

In-Demand Employability Skills Identified by Necessary Skills Now:

  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Verbal Communication
  • Written Communication
  • Dependability/Work Ethic
  • Planning/Organizing

In addition to module development, the project designed and delivered faculty development workshops to help instructors from any technical discipline create their own integrated curriculum projects in partnership with local employers. As project activities unfolded, it became clear that faculty and employers were seeking broader solutions and more opportunities to network and exchange ideas. The partner organizations envisioned forming a network that could bring together collaborators from across the STEM disciplines to dialogue, share resources, and take informed actions that result in STEM technicians better prepared for success in the workplace. The recently launched Necessary Skills Now Network (NSN Network) aims to provide environments for employer-educator communication, resource sharing, professional development, and cross-discipline collaboration.

NSN Network Goals:

  1. Create and foster an active community of practice of stakeholders to exchange ideas, promising practices, research, and employment trends;
  2. Provide professional development workshops and courses to foster the adoption of effective teaching methods, instructional materials, and learning environments; and
  3. Create a repository of resources to improve employability skills development among students in technical associate degree programs.