Building Durable Skills and Networks: Leadership Educators' Contributions to Workforce Readiness

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2022-06-26

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Association of Leadership Educators

Abstract

As America’s workforce changes, so does the nature of the work and skills necessary for success. Employers are increasingly in need of a workforce that effectively engages in collaborative leadership. Educational opportunities should include collaborative leadership learning experiences to help build workforce readiness. Findings from action research reveal insights on durable skills and networks for collaborative leadership. Agricultural educators are bridging the gap by refreshing existing workforce development curricula to meet 21st century agricultural industry needs. Taking an activity-oriented approach, Leadership-as-Practice may assist in providing additional understanding of leadership practices or phenomena (Raelin, 2011, 2020). The purpose of this project was to reveal ideal approaches to integrating collaborative leadership education into existing curricula. The study used a semi-structured protocol with two focus groups. Participants, affiliated with agricultural workforce preparation programs, surfaced six key themes: (1) Agreeing with APLU employability skills report, (2) Finding positive benefits in completing internships, (3) Strategizing to build problem-solving skills, (4) Addressing “soft skills” assessment challenges, (5) Prioritizing verbal communication skill enhancements, and (6) Learning how to accept faults and mistakes. This action research approach, with stakeholders from multiple institutions, can serve as a model for expanding educational networks to exchange knowledge and share leadership curricula.

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