Our Corporate Partners Agree

In addition, several of our corporate partners, such as Southwest Airlines, tell us that they can teach new hires how to do a job, but those employees won't last or be successful in today's workplace without the Essential Skills.

The Essential Skills Beyond College and Career

The Essential Skills aren't just useful for jobs and education. You need to use them in every area of your life, throughout your whole life.

Box 3.1 The Six Essential Skills

Organizations—corporations like Southwest Airlines and TransPerfect Technologies, as well as educational institutions including the University of Vermont and Harvard University—also use the Essential Skills. These competencies are foundational for high-performing organizations, not just individuals.

The Essential Skills are now one of CFES' three core practices, alongside Pathways to College and Career, and Mentoring. The Essential Skills evolved from the practice we call leadership through service, which helps young people identify and express their leadership potential by working to improve their school, neighborhood, and/or community. Leadership is now one of the six Essential Skills (see Box 3.1), and, as Brian Flores notes later in Chapter 4, service is inextricably linked to leadership.

Why Only Six Essential Skills?

The six Essential Skills promoted by CFES are not the only essential skills; Peru High School students (Box 3.5), for example, included communication as their seventh essential skill.

But our six happen to be the ones that CFES Scholars personally found most important for moving toward college and career readiness (CCR) and beyond. This was confirmed by a team of evaluators from the University of Michigan, who reported that "the Essential Skills promote social and educational uplift and ultimately help students become 21 st-century workforce ready" (St. John et al., 2015).

In the sections that follow, we define each of the six Essential Skills and what each should mean to students, share an activity that adult leaders can use to help students cultivate that skill, and then share a short profile of someone who embodies that Essential Skill. We then offer practical tips for implementing student-centered programs that enable students to develop and practice the Essential Skills while serving as role models for others.

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