Increase youth employability through teamwork skills

There are many ways teens can build teamwork skills -- and improve their employability -- while still in high school.

As young people prepare for their future careers, it is advantageous for them to gain experience and confidence in a few key skills. Teamwork is often cited as one of the crucial skills that employers look for during an interview. The 2011 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for Colleges and Careers found that amongst Fortune 1000 executives, 94 percent believe that the ability to work on teams is an essential or very important skill (page 21). 

The ability to work well on a team involves interacting and communicating with others, understanding goals and priorities, and being able to contribute to the greater good. These skills can be demonstrated through respect for others, as well as being reliable and competent. There are many places teamwork is used in a workplace. Often, a project requires multiple skills to successfully complete it, a job requires working with different people on a daily basis, or management can see the benefits of a team approach. No matter what kind of job or career a young person hopes to pursue, employers are interested in candidates who can exhibit the ability to work well with others. 

There are many ways that teenagers can build teamwork skills while in high school:

  • Join a club. Many extracurricular activities such as 4-H, sports or band provide youth with many opportunities to work as part of a team. 
  • Organize or join a community service project. This is a great place to practice leadership as well as teamwork in a setting similar to a work environment, while doing something good for the community at the same time!
  • Collaborate with peers or community members on school projects, fundraising targets or civic issues. Pay attention to the skills needed to accomplish the task, as well as the outcomes when a team works together for a common goal. 

Teens should document teamwork skills on a résumé. Whether or not the experience was in a work environment, these skills can be very appealing to potential employers, and including them may offer an opportunity to provide more detail about teamwork experiences in an interview. Sample résumés and related activities can be found on the Michigan 4-H website.

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