Which Learning Outcomes Matter Most?

In-demand skills vary by industry, employer, and job role. However, there are some skills that cross all industries and work functions. In a recent CERTIFIED Academy: Business webinar, we sat down with two veteran CTE (Career Technical Education) teachers, Karen Coulumbe and Kathy Schmidt, and Eric Yakovich, the Director of Economic Development at the Port of Kalama, Washington.

With these professionals, we discussed the ever-changing workforce landscape, and what employers are looking for in today’s hires. Find out what skills employers are looking for, and how you can map those to specific learning outcomes in your classroom.

Communication Skills

In a report published earlier this year, Indeed.com listed communication skills as the top requested job skill. No matter the field, employees need to be able to communicate. Communication in today’s workforce is more complex than ever before, encompassing verbal, non-verbal, and written communications that take place on a myriad of platforms.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on students’ opportunities to develop their communication skills. Eric mentioned the struggle he sees in younger hires. “Communication skills are really hard to come by these days.” Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to slowly help students practice their communication skills. Projects like formal presentations and written reports, mock interviews, and even business lunches help students become excellent communicators.


Your students know how to behave as students, and even communicate as students. But do they know how to communicate and behave as a professional? Karen believes that students need things to be spelled out explicitly before they can truly understand how to act as professionals.

“I’ve put together a checklist that my students go through each week. They need to self-report on a few key areas, such as disengaging from technology while speaking to others, working without supervision, completing team tasks, and coming prepared to class. It helps my students to know what I expect in the classroom, but also what employers will expect when they’re on the job,” said Karen.

As an industry professional and CTE Advisory Board member, Eric echoed Karen’s thoughts. “I learned a lot of the professionalism basics as a child, but I think we’ve lost some of those points of etiquette along the way. As an employer, I expect all my employees to understand respect, punctuality, and preparedness. Be on time for your workday, for your meetings, and be ready for those conversations.”


Rarely, in the professional world, do people succeed alone. Successful teams work together to accomplish key objectives, with each member of the team assigned to a specific job role or set of tasks. However, team projects in the classroom often don’t mirror a real-world team scenario.

“You can’t just tell students, ‘Go be a team’, because then one student will do all the work. There’s no accountability for the other team members. If you're going to teach students how to be a part of a team, they need to understand accountability,” said Eric.

When you assign students to work in a team, give them specific job functions. Everyone’s more successful when they know their role, and what they’re expected to contribute. Plus, learning to work as a team will help students be successful in any job they pursue. “Teamwork is a universally transferrable skill,” emphasized Kathy.

Excitement for Learning

The workforce landscape is dynamic, which means that students will need to continually learn on the job. Helping your students love learning is one of the most important learning outcomes you can teach in your classroom.

Kathy strongly believes in helping students take charge of their own learning. “I would always remind my students that they need to love learning, love the problem-solving process. Instead of having students ask me questions, I would push back. I would encourage them to check out some good resources for themselves, then come share what they found. Who knows how much jobs will change before our students are in the workforce? To be tomorrow-ready, they need to know how to study things out and learn on their own.”

Discover how to teach the learning outcomes that matter most and prepare your students to be the professionals the workforce needs. You can listen to the full conversation with Karen, Kathy, and Eric on our podcast or catch the video recording on YouTube.