Giving Compass' Take:

· Amelia Harper explains how an after-school program in North Carolina is helping students build problem-solving and soft skills by pairing them to work with local businesses to solve real-world problems.

· How can this partnering also teach collaboration and critical and creative thinking? How does it help prepare students for the future workplace?

· Read about a business simulation that is preparing students for the workforce.

A North Carolina after-school program, co-founded by former educators, has students work in diverse groups with area businesses on challenges such as improving design and hiring processes.

While schools must teach the academic basics students need to survive as functional, contributing members of society, the importance of teaching soft skills for the workplace is also increasingly recognized. Employers are looking for graduates who understand how to solve problems and collaborate with others to serve a common goal. And while these skills are often hard to measure, states are looking at ways to incorporate soft skills so students are better prepared for college and career.

While soft skills like problem-solving and collaboration can be taught to some degree in the classroom, the real-life application of these skills makes more of an impact and helps students connect with that knowledge in a stronger way. Programs like District C are helpful, but they're limited in scope and not currently available in every school district. However, schools can bring employers to schools to connect with students and share real-life scenarios through classroom experiences, projects and genius hours.

But the best way to provide these real-world experiences is by building relationships with local businesses and other organizations within the community to find ways to introduce students to these experiences in a personal and hands-on way. School-business partnerships are sometimes viewed in the light of the ways businesses can contribute to schools, but strong partnerships can also benefit businesses — especially when students reach high school.

Read the full article about building problem-solving and soft skills by Amelia Harper at Education Dive.