Soft Skills: Why are they worth investing in?
In recent years, soft skills, also known as “human skills” or “21st-century skills”, have become a hot topic. They’re seen as the obvious, all-powerful silver bullet that will solve multiple challenges.
But are they really so powerful? Actually, the hype matches the reality here…
- Soft skills contribute to personal development, participation in learning, and success in employment (Gibb, 2014).
- Research also shows that such skills are a better predictor of educational achievements, earning, and employment than hard skills (Kyllonen, 2013).
With that in mind, we take a look at how soft skills come into play and why they are key factors for development in both educational and vocational contexts.
Soft skills matter… for employability
Much of primary and secondary education is focused on “hard” skills; namely, specific technical skills and knowledge. However, soft skills are consistently rated highly by employers. In fact, according to CareerBuilder, 77% of employers say soft skills are just as important as hard skills!
Soft skills matter… in the education & learning journey
Considering how important soft skills are for employers, it’s no surprise that they are also seen as important by educators, schools, training institutions, and universities preparing young people for the workplace.
But, soft skills are not just about preparing for the future!
- Soft skills impact the learning experience itself: Extensive research shows they’re critical to student academic achievement, retention, sense of well-being and general life-functioning (e.g., Lipnevich, MacCann, & Roberts, 2014).
- Soft skills are gradually becoming part of the admission process: Some institutions also already use soft skills assessment in college placement testing. This development shows that certain soft skills can balance, enhance or compensate for lower scores or lack of technical knowledge (Kyllonen, 2013).
Soft skills matter… for the future of work
Finally, while schools and universities are busy preparing learners for the workplace, that workplace is changing drastically, especially considering the impact of the pandemic and the new models it has generated. The World Economic Forum pointed at the top 10 skills they consider crucial for the workforce of the near future. Many of the top spots were taken by soft skills, including critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.
Soft skills are one of the best investments for a better future to:
Despite all the interest and value placed on soft skills though, they can still seem mysterious. They’re hard to define, take time to develop, and their improvement is practically unmeasurable.
This has been on our minds at 100mentors. In our upcoming series, we’ll be diving into the 3 key soft skills that connect to inquiry; a unique quality for both learners and employees. More importantly, we’ll be looking at how these three skills can actually be developed, and that development can be measured!
Intrigued? Subscribe to our blog so you’ll be the first to find out how 100mentors is introducing the technology to train and certify your soft skills, or your learners’ soft skills, one question at a time.
Gibb, S. (2014). Soft skills assessment: theory development and the research agenda. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(4), 455–471.
Kyllonen, P. C. (2013). Soft Skills for the Workplace. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 45(6), 16–23.
Lipnevich, A. A., & Roberts, R. D. (2014). Noncognitive skills in education: Emerging research and applications in a variety of international contexts. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(2), 173–177.