November 14, 2016
Plans for the expansion of a College of Education program received unexpected support from a business community survey. The three-course Certificate in Collaborative Leadership program was piloted in fall 2011 and launched in summer 2012. Brittany Gundel, assistant professor and program director, said employers at the time told the university that graduates were highly skilled but lacked interpersonal and communication skills needed for the workplace.
A recent survey released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers noted employers are now increasing the importance of graduates who demonstrate strong communication skills.
The survey reflects the College of Education’s initial reason for starting the Collaborative Leadership program, which now plans to more than double the program’s class on interpersonal skills in the spring semester, from eight to 22 sections offered.
Gundel said the program is highly experiential and allows students to develop and practice the skills they learn.
“Their learning is much more active and hands-on than it is passive, which I believe helps them to be much more prepared as they enter the workforce upon graduation,” she said.
In addition to the growing interpersonal skills class, the program offers separate classes in cross-cultural skills and mentoring. The ability to work in a multicultural environment is another skill increasing in importance among employers, according to the NACE survey.
In the course, Gundel said students work on role-playing difficult conversations by practicing active listening and interpersonal skills, receiving and providing feedback and in-class activities that promote emotional awareness.
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