WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Business leaders and educators discussed the need to improve soft skills in the workplace Thursday at the 2016 Education Summit hosted by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber at Seasons Restaurant in Washington Township.
“Are we educating students today for the workplace of tomorrow?” was the over-riding question for the 130 attendees
Panelists spoke about the value of soft skills such as communications, flexibility, work ethic and problem-solving that may not be inherent to millennials.
“These are a whole new set of skills that are going to be more and more important in the future,” said Ellen Glazerman, Executive Director, Ernst & Young Foundation.
The group also discussed the importance of diversity and how it contributes to workplace solutions.
Colleges and universities are training students to step into important roles in the future, Berkeley College President Michael J. Smith said.
Sixty-eight percent of the Berkeley College student body is female, and the majority of students are of African-American or Latino descent, he said.
“What makes New Jersey so great is that we are diverse,” Smith said. “This is the future of New Jersey. These are the professionals your organizations want to employ.”
Berkeley College has 35 career services professionals dedicated to working with students on skills that allow them to step into internship opportunities -- and benefit employers, he said.
Ramsey Schools Supt. Matthew Murphy spoke about changes at the K-through-12 level, and how schools are redesigning the student experience to increase problem-solving skills.
“Children today have access to information all the time,” he said. “It’s not about what you know – it’s what you do with what you know.”
Education must continue to adapt at every level, said Bergen Community College President Kaye Walter.
“The world has changed,” she said. “We can’t continue doing the things we have always done.”