Last week the University of Maine announced that they will be offering a new professional skills minor within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). This minor will become available in the fall of 2021, and all students pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree within the college will be required to complete this minor. All first-year students in CLAS will be signed up for this minor beginning in the fall semester. Students already in the middle of their degree progress will not be made to take up the minor, but would have the option to take the minor if they would like. The coursework focuses heavily on developing skills most employers in the workplace desire and that students might not otherwise learn with their regular coursework. For example, students with this minor will learn about coding, statistics and public speaking. These skills are not otherwise taught in some Bachelors of Arts programs, but current students can elect to take some of these courses as general education requirements. The minor is 21 credit hours and meant to be completed within the four years the student is earning their degree.
Cammie Pierce, a third-year studying psychology and English is in full support of the professional skills minor.
“This sounds really cool,” Pierce said. “Honestly I feel it should be opened up to all majors because I think some STEM kids might need it too. I think psychology and English have helped me a lot in creating a good foundation of those skills already, and the Honors College has given me even more skills like those on top of that.”
“I think it sounds beneficial to almost anyone but depending on your major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences it may actually be something you already have,” Pierce continued. “But the stats and coding part [definitely] could help CLAS students more for sure. I think it could be a great opportunity for any major because all students need to know basic communication and networking skills as well as the more technical and professional skills this minor teaches.”
Faculty in the CLAS have also expressed support for this minor, saying that it will benefit students greatly.
“In acquiring a liberal arts education, students become critical thinkers, engaged citizens, and collaborative individuals with the resilience and flexibility to take on a variety of careers,” Timothy Cole, the associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said in a statement to UMaine News.
Equipping students with professional skills before they enter the workforce will help them in any profession they wish to pursue. It is important to note that the CLAS boasts many majors from varying disciplines, from chemistry to theatre. It is unclear if students from other colleges will be able to enroll in this minor or if it will only be reserved for CLAS students. Nevertheless, students will earn a minor that will help them professionally for years to come, no matter what career they end up choosing.