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Career Readiness | Employability Skills

Employability Skills Lesson Plans for Middle and High School

January 24th, 2022 | 6 min. read

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Middle and high school teachers are feeling the pressure to include employability skills lesson plans as part of their career readiness curriculum.

But what are employability skills and how can you teach them?

As a career readiness curriculum developer, we've been asked questions just like this time and time again.

There are thousands of career readiness resources out there, but they aren't all appropriate for students in middle or high school.

To make your life easier, this article will provide some of the best places to find lessons and activities to teach employability skills.

You'll also be able to download a free lesson plan on professionalism you can use in your classes today!

But before we get to the resources, let's answer the most important question: what are employability skills?

What Are Employability Skills and Characteristics?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a job outlook survey asking employers to indicate the most important attributes they look for in a candidate.

According to the survey, some of the most important skills employers look for are:employability-skills-characteristics

  1. Problem-solving skills
  2. Teamwork and collaboration skills
  3. Communication skills
  4. Leadership
  5. Initiative
  6. Flexibility and adaptability
  7. Interpersonal skills

Incidentally, all of these skills can be found on the list of 21st Century skills that today's students need to succeed in their careers.

Now that you know what skills employers are looking for, let's dive into where you can find employability skills lessons and activities!

Get Your Free Professionalism Lesson Plan

Where To Find Employability Skills Lesson Plans

There are hundreds of resources out there that cover topics on our list of employability skills. But some will work better for your classes than others.

Here we'll share popular resources for each employability skill that teachers like you use regularly.

1. Lessons on Problem Solving Skills

Problem solving skills require a lot of higher order thinking in relation to decision-making and critical thinking.

That makes it one of the most difficult employability skills to teach. However, there are a number of resources out there to help!

Check out this article to get started:

2. Lessons for Teamwork and Collaboration Skills

Teamwork and collaboration skills are necessary in practically every career your students can think of. They even apply to the daily work while in school!

So how can you provide relevant, engaging lessons to help your students hone their teamwork skills?

Here's a few resources to help you teach teamwork and collaboration:

3. Lessons on Communication Skills

With texting and messaging apps, today's students can communicate more easily than ever before. However, that doesn't mean they are using good communication skills that will apply in their careers!


When teaching communication skills, it's important to cover a variety of communication styles, including:

  • Listening skills
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Public speaking
  • Social media usage

To help you teach this wide range of communication skills, we've pulled together a list of resources for you to check out:

4. Leadership Lesson Plans

Leadership involves someone's ability to influence and guide others towards a common goal.

Finding leadership resources for employers and professionals is easy. But it can be tough to sort through everything to find relevant lessons and activities for your students.

That's why we recommend you look for resources that touch on the qualities that make a good leader, such as:

  • Problem solving
  • Goal setting
  • Teamwork
  • Responsibility

Here's a few places to start as you build your leadership lessons:

5. Resources to Teach Initiative


Initiative, also called intrinsic motivation, relates to an individual starting projects, creating plans, and executing strategies on their own.

Some of the best tips to help teach initiative to your students are:

  1. Tie your lessons to the end goal
  2. Incorporate group work
  3. Let students work independently
  4. Find ways to help students stay productive
  5. Encourage students to discover connections

Read the full article on teaching initiative here: How to Teach Initiative in High School

6. Lessons on Flexibility

Flexibility is someone's ability to adapt to change and understand differences in view that can impact decisions.

Flexibility often involves letting go of control and moving forward with decisions you may not always agree with. That makes it a tough employability skill to teach in middle and high school!

However if you create connections between flexibility and other skills such as collaboration, you may find it easier to teach.

To get started with teaching flexibility, check out the resources on Teachers Pay Teachers related to flexible thinking.

7. Interpersonal Skills Lessons and ActivitiesCustomer-Service-Skills-1-2

Interpersonal skills are crucial to the ongoing success of professionals in any field.

Having good interpersonal skills often relates to having empathy, professionalism, and good customer service skills.

While these skills may have been implied in past generations, the rise of social media and instant communications have changed the nature of human interaction.

That makes it an even more important topic to teach in your employability skills curriculum!

So how can you teach interpersonal skills to your middle and high school students?

Review the resources below to find the most relevant lessons for your students:

Start Teaching Employability Skills Now!

Are you ready to teach your students the skills they need to succeed?

Start by using a free professionalism lesson plan from within the AES career readiness curriculum.

This lesson helps you introduce students to the characteristics of professionalism and helps them understand how unprofessional behavior can impact their careers.

Click below to download your free lesson to start teaching professionalism now!

Get Your Free Professionalism Lesson Plan