June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Increasingly employers are demanding that Construction Management (CM) graduates demonstrate strong 21st century ‘soft’ skills to enhance their effectiveness as CM professionals. Consequently, higher-education institutions and their industry partners are aggressively exploring strategies that can be implemented to improve students’ soft skills prior to their graduation and transition into professional roles. In collaboration with an industry partner, a four-week Professional Development Workshop (PDW) is implemented for CM students at an HBCU. The objective was to engage CM students in activities that would improve their soft skills and their career readiness.
The purpose of this research is to assess the impact of the industry-led PDW on the 21st century ‘soft’ skills of CM students at an HBCU. For research purposes, these skills were grouped into seven categories: Intellectual Excellence; Communication; Ethics and Professionalism; Self-Efficacy; Teamwork; Career Readiness; and Civic Responsibility. Self-reported pre and post surveys, as well as observations during the PDW are used to obtain data for statistical analysis. Preliminary results from the pre-surveys showed that CM students assign the highest levels of importance to Ethics and Professionalism, Communication, and Intellectual Excellence, while Career Readiness and Civic Responsibility were deemed least important. Preliminary observations indicate that the PDW has had an impact of students’ perceptions of 21st century ‘soft’ skills.
Results should help CM faculty members and program developers better understand CM students’ perceptions of 21st century skills, and how PDWs can be effective in strengthening these skills. Best practices and lessons learnt from the implementation of the PDW will be discussed to facilitate its replication at other higher education institutions, particularly HBCUs. In the long term, CM programs with the capacity to improve students’ soft skills will produce graduates who are better equipped to meet the demands of their employers.
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