Energy Industry Common Employability Skills (CES) for Educators

The Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) received a National Network of Business Industry Associations (NNBIA) Capacity-Building Grant to determine how educators are preparing the future workforce on employability skills and how member employers assess for and use these types of skills in their hiring processes. This work is based on NNBIA’s Common Employability Skills (CES) Framework, which establishes a vivid, unifying description of the requisite Applied Knowledge along with the Personal, People, and Workplace Skills needed to gain employment. CEWD has developed an energy industry version of the CES where there are skill “add-ons,” such as engineering, a greater focus on decision making, as well as other areas that are especially important in energy industry careers.

As a result of this grant, CEWD has published three booklets that can be used by education institutions who are part of the National Energy Education Network (NEEN). These booklets are designed to complement each other by looking at the assessment of energy industry employability skills, how to “teach” these employability skills through contextualized learning, and building awareness among students on the importance of these skills in the workplace.

CES Assessment Guide for the Energy Industry

CEWD has aligned the energy industry version of the CES to the ACT WorkKeys assessments (Applied Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Locating Information) as well the ACT Applied Technology and Business Writing assessments. The guide includes an alignment chart.

However, not all of the CES are addressed by ACT assessments. The booklet has suggested cognitive assessment questions in areas such as Science and Mathematics, scenario activities for some of the People and Workplace Skills, and an IT Skills checklist. In addition, for the hard-to-measure skills such as the Personal Skills, there is a behavioral assessment checklist. This checklist can be used by instructors to provide feedback and coach students based on the behaviors they observe in the students over time.

CES Contextualized Learning Guide for the Energy Industry

One of the goals of the CES Model is that educators and other learning providers will have an industry-defined roadmap for what foundational skills to teach, providing individuals the added benefit of being able to evaluate educational programs to ensure they will in fact learn skills that employers value. This booklet provides guidance on how to “teach” some of the employability skills in the context of the real world of work. By contextualizing through industry-specific problem-solving and scenarios, students will better understand why they need to learn these skills and how they will use them in the future. This can be used alongside the Student Communication Guide, which is written specifically for high school and community college students.

CES Student Communication Guide for the Energy Industry

The Student Communication Guide includes all of the energy industry CES. In addition, it contains a self-evaluation where students determine how well they demonstrate each of the CES. They select a few areas where they need improvement and write measurable actions on how to develop these skills. There are sample action items included in the guide. In addition, this provides a great opportunity for students to meet with their instructors for a coaching session to devise their action items.

CES Employer Toolkit

The NNBIA has donated an employer toolkit to CEWD members focused on how to assess common employability skills among candidates as well as how to utilize work-based learning opportunities to teach future employees how to capitalize on these skills.

CEWD looks forward to your feedback on these booklets. Please provide your input to CEWD Education Consultant Valerie Taylor at

Download a printable PDF version of this overview.