Workforce Skills for Special Population Students

Teaching necessary workforce skills to all students is an essential part of CTE courses. Workforce skills are especially crucial for special population students, especially those who are not planning on attending a higher education institution after high school.


Examples of essential workforce skills include:

     - Time management
     - Communication
     - Conflict resolution


Each industry requires the skills mentioned earlier, whether they are entry-level jobs or positions requiring an education. This article will focus on tips and tricks to help special population students to develop essential workforce skills.


Time Management

Special population students often have a difficult managing their time and assignments. While teachers can aid with classwork, supervisors may not be able to change their employees' workload. Employees should arrive to work on time, be organized and know how to prioritize responsibilities. When accepting a new position, time is needed for employees to adjust to the job and learn how to correctly complete tasks. However, once employees have adjusted, duties should be completed promptly. High priority tasks should be completed first during the workday.

A portion of time management is completing tasks efficiently and accurately, which cannot be done if the employee is struggling to do a task. Entering the “real world” can be daunting, and students could attempt to do everything on their own, viewing it as a weakness to ask for help. Therefore, teaching students to ask for necessary help is essential in developing workforce skills. Asking for help instead of doing a task incorrectly is a vital skill to teach special population students.



The ability to communicate, whether verbally or through written means, is crucial in the workforce. Employees need to communicate with supervisors, coworkers or customers daily. When communicating verbally or through written means, it is essential to be respectful and to participate in the conversation. Speaking with customers often requires patience, especially when a customer is disgruntled. Listen to complaints calmly, without interrupting or becoming overly frustrated. If necessary, an employee should contact a supervisor for help.

Communication through email is becoming more popular within the workforce. Therefore, students should learn how to accurately send an email before entering the workforce. Proper email etiquette consists of short, to the point messages which are grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. Emails should include a subject, opening sentence and a signature.


Conflict Resolution

Unfortunately, not everyone will get along with their coworkers 100% of the time in the workplace. In the event of a conflict, employees should resolve the issue by:

     - Speaking calmly and rationally
     - Remain respectful
     - Be willing to see both perspectives of the situation
     - Compromise when necessary

Students should begin to develop conflict resolution skills before entering the workforce. Students need a safe environment to learn how to work through feelings, which they may experience with conflict, and to learn how to communicate effectively. Group work and projects can help students build these essential skills and practice properly resolving conflict. This is probably the most crucial skill for students who struggle with person-to-person interactions.


While all CTE students can benefit from developing workforce skills, it is particularly important to teach special population students workplace etiquette. Students who struggle with personal interactions could particularly benefit from learning how to interact in the workplace. These tips and tricks can be used in CTE classrooms to prepare special population students to enter the workforce despite their plans after high school.