When employers have been asked in surveys what skills they expect from their employees, the answers regularly highlight social skills, reasoning skills, creativity, innovativeness and problem-solving skills. Lately characteristics such as persistence and boldness have also started to be mentioned more often.
You can learn working life skills through, for example, internships or projects, but you can also learn them on campus. This requires multifaceted pedagogy.
The development of working life skills is enhanced by pedagogy that enhances working together, benefitting from earlier knowledge and experiences, combining theory and practice, promoting a critical approach to the topics being studied, receiving and giving feedback and using varied assessment.
In our study, traditional teaching methods – lecturing, working independently and reading – proved to be inefficient when learning working life skills. However, this does not mean that these teaching and learning methods are not needed. They are essential for getting new information and deepening understanding. We recommend pedagogy in which lecture teaching, reading and writing are connected to cooperative solving of practical problems and critical thinking. One method for this is a flipped classroom, in which students first study independently with the help of literature or video lessons and then deepen and adapt what they have learned under the teacher’s guidance.
In the development of working life skills, it is naturally important that students have an opportunity to get work experience and various working life connections. This requires collaboration between education and the world of work. At the turn of the millennium, British researchers presented a model of connective internship that develops working life by linking educational institutions with workplace learning. The idea is that education and the world of work collaboratively create learning opportunities for students. In another British model, curriculums are based on education and research and the connection to the world of work is a key principle.
At JYU we have developed a model of integrative pedagogy, in which theory and practice are linked through various working methods. In the Work-Integrated Pedagogy in Higher Education project, coordinated by JYU, our teachers are developing this kind of teaching in various units. For example, in working life projects it is possible to apply theoretical knowledge to solve practical problems and at the same time learn working practices familiar to entrepreneurs.
Professor, Finnish Institute for Educational Research