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December 11
1922 - Piru bank robbed, banker and daughter kidnapped [story]


Local entrepreneurs, industry leaders and business owners have the same answer when asked what they see as the most urgent need in the workforce: improved soft skills. They want employees who can communicate clearly, whether writing or speaking; effectively collaborate on teams; and quickly make decisions that benefit both the company and its customers.

This theme keeps popping up, no matter the venue. Whether I find myself meeting with the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Board of Directors, talking with fellow board members from the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce, or hosting a meeting of our Business Alliance members at the college, the discussion always turns to this topic.

That shouldn’t be surprising, because what we’re experiencing is clearly a national trend.

LinkedIn recently released a study in which 57 percent of respondents said soft skills – or as I prefer to call them, professional skills – are more important than hard skills, or skills necessary for the trade. And, according to data collected by iCIMS, one in three recruiting professionals believe these skills have declined in candidates over the last five years.

In my own career, I have witnessed how professional skills contribute to growth, company culture, the building of a team, and individual professional success. Unfortunately, I have also seen how a deficit in those skills can lead to inefficiencies, a less vibrant work environment and a revolving door of new hires.

To meet the demand of Santa Clarita businesses, College of the Canyons professors developed a series of classes designed to hone employees’ professional skills. The college’s School of Continuing Education is offering these classes for the first time during the current fall 2018 semester.

Designed to teach participants the skills needed to help achieve their career goals, these eight free, short-term classes are open to the public. Registration is under way now. The following courses will be held during the fall semester:

* Time Management

* Business Writing in the Technology Age

* Critical Thinking, Problem Solving & Decision Making

* Best Practices in Customer Service

* The Art of Negotiation & Collaboration

* Personality Styles & Difficult Relationships

* Successfully Managing & Developing People

* Communication Strategies for the Workplace

To accommodate a variety of work schedules, these classes can be taken in the afternoon, evening, or through online sessions. Students have the option of taking courses at the college’s Canyon Country Campus on Sierra Highway or at the new Santa Clarita Plaza classroom on Bouquet Canyon Road.

In addition to equipping professionals with invaluable tools, completion of these classes demonstrates desirable skills to potential employers. By completing a combination of specific classes, students have the opportunity to obtain a Workplace Essentials Certificate, Customer Relations Certificate or a Management Tools Certificate. These certificates will help individuals acquire the professional skills employers are seeking.

While people who are newer to the workforce can greatly benefit, any professional wanting to grow or become more competitive will find value in these courses.

I am excited about this new opportunity, as it helps us to fulfill our mission to “prepare students for workforce-skills development” and provides an answer to one of the most urgent needs expressed by our local business leaders.

 

Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook serves as chancellor of College of the Canyons. For more information about the free Career Skills classes, call the College of the Canyons School of Continuing Education at 661-362-3304.

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