Skills and Credentials Critical to Advancing Career Readiness

As we celebrate World Youth Skills Day, we take a look at how South Carolina’s Denmark Technical College partnered with YouScience to provide their students with industry-recognized certification and skills toward career success. 

The United Nations General Assembly established the World Youth Skills Day in order to acknowledge the strategic importance of colleges and universities to provide new graduates with the right skills for employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. The World Youth Skills Day is observed on July 15th. 

According to the UN, education and training are paramount to the achievement of the 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development goals. The observance of World Youth Skills Day also serves as a stepping stone to opening up a dialogue between students, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, organizations, policy-makers, and development partners. 

Today, it is more important than ever to provide students with the right individual guidance and skills they need to make informed decisions on their career for their future employment and success.

The heart of the matter: Skills gap or awareness gap? 

We hear a lot of conversation surrounding the skills gap between what employers need in the new talent they hire and the capabilities that new graduates have acquired throughout post-secondary education. However, some argue that in most cases college graduates’ are simply unable to make employers aware of the skills they possess. In other words, employers can’t see the skills job applicants have developed through curricular activities when they are presented with just transcripts and resumes.

For Jeri Larsen, Chief Operating Officer at YouScience, a leading student engagement platform that leverages data science to improve student success and bridge the divide between education and careers, “there is not a skills gap as much as there is an awareness gap.”

In an interview with Fierce Education, Larsen explained how YouScience has helped over 5.5 million students around the United States identify their unique natural talents and skills, helping them see themselves and potential careers from a new personal perspective based on solid grounds. 

Larsen mentioned how South Carolina’s Denmark Technical College is a fine example of how aptitude-based career guidance and industry skills certification impact the future of students. The college, one of only eleven two-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the United States, adopted YouScience’s Precision Exams, a large collection of industry-recognized certification exams across all 16 National Career Clusters as well as 21st Century Skills, providing Denmark Technical College students with a strong foundation as they follow their journey toward career success. 

Larsen explained how YouScience tackles today’s most pressing challenges including diversity, inclusion, and equity, wage discrepancy, declining graduation rates, and career and workforce planning. By emphasizing on the importance of aptitude assessments, students can understand how their natural talents connect with real-world careers and how these insights are helping to eliminate natural biases, thus increasing access and equity, especially for female students wishing to embark on a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) career.

“YouScience [provides] our students and our community with the opportunity to know that other career opportunities exist outside of what they might have imagined for themselves,” said Dr. Willie L. Todd Jr., Denmark Tech President and CEO. “This is especially important for our students from rural communities whose exposure to career opportunities may be limited.”