Schools Looking Closely At Role Of ‘Soft Skills’ In Success

In the 21st century there is a growing fear that recent graduates may not be ready for the workforce — and that reason seems to revolve around a lack of “soft skills”. Reportedly, potential employees “lack the proper business skills and other professional abilities that will help make them good employees.”

“Soft skills” are described as communications, critical thinking, problem solving and concise writing by The National Journal; and these as well as the other skills employers look for in potential employees are, in that sense, “hard as rock”. Self-regulation and grit are important to success in education and life as emphasized by experts.

Reportedly, “tapping into a great deal of recent research, the most important things to develop in students are ‘noncognitive skills’ which include resilience, integrity, resourcefulness, professionalism and ambition.”

“Soft skills” for their part mean a lot more than just single skills that can be taught and mastered in one semester, for that reason they seem to be lacking among students.

The National Journal says that “traditional high school or college settings don’t focus on interpersonal skills” because “teaching to the test” doesn’t leave room for much else.

However, “test driven, or force-fed, learning cannot enrich and promote the traits necessary for life success” as James Comer, a professor at Yale, believes.

As Jason Hardy of Deseret News reports, at least in some schools, this may be changing. Very promising results have been seen in research studies on blending life and academic lessons. Hawaiian elementary schools reported “fewer suspensions, lower absenteeism and better reading and math scores on standardized tests” upon implementing programs building social, emotional and character skills for one hour each week, as one landmark found out.

Because “improved social and character skills leave more time for teachers to teach, and students to learn and be more motivated”, these outcomes have a point as reasoned by Brian Flay, a researcher at Oregon State University.

Having less social support still challenges students of traditionally underprivileged communities.

As one expert reportedly writes, their opportunities to learn these skills are too often overtaken by incentives in all contexts of life to “develop habits that impede their ability to learn. Often they can’t even see what the point of learning is.”

In what one reporter calls “skills that don’t show up in a college transcript or a sit-down interview”, businesses can take a role to close the gap where schools fail. In addition, training that includes dining etiquette, writing skills and community involvement is offered to individuals with potential who are identified by a certain bank. And the results are promising — the turnover rate of the bank’s employees is half that of its competitors.

01 29, 2014
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