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Essential Skills: A Young Professionals Study

From Young Professionals, For Young Professionals

For years there have been discussions around the competencies and skills students need to learn to be successful in the workforce. However, has the American education system been effective in preparing its youth for their future? What experiences have been the most effective in providing students with these Essential Skills? Moreover, what skills do young professionals and employers say are crucial for success?  The Young Professionals Study was developed by a research committee of education and industry partners to better understand the skills young professionals need to succeed in the workforce.  

With the mission of expanding pathways to economic growth and opportunity, The DeBruce Foundation has partnered with KC Rising, KC STEM Alliance, KC Area Education Research Consortium, the Kauffman Foundation, and others to seek creative and lasting solutions for these issues. KC Rising first identified the 24 professional skills found in all work activities and labeled them Common Sector Competencies.  After consultation with company executives and young professionals across multiple industries, the committee pointed the six most important skills from the Common Sector Competencies and further specified them as Essential Skills.

Identifying the most influential experiences that formed these Essential Skills required the input of young professionals within the community.  To accomplish this, researchers at the KC Area Education Research Consortium developed and launched The Young Professionals Survey. The goal of this survey is to determine:

  • The importance of each essential skill when first starting a career
  • The level of level of comfort in each skill
  • The most influential high school and college experiences that form these skills

Survey respondents are over 400 young professionals, defined as “a person who has been out of school and in the workforce for one to five years, that works in the Kansas City metropolitan area.”  The survey was distributed to companies across various industries to reflect diverse regional demographics. The results from the Young Professionals survey will enable educators to create educational environments, experiences, and curricula, which help students develop the competencies and skills necessary to succeed within the workplace. 

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