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4 IMPORTANCE OF SOFT SKILLS FOR PROFESSIONALS AND STUDENTS

 Importance of soft skills for professionals and students is the essence of this article. “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The term “Soft Skills” was created by the U.S Army in late 1960’s. It refers to any skill that does not employ the use of machinery. The importance of soft skills lies in the fact that they are not restricted to a specific field. Soft skills make people flexible in a changing world. It helps “People to adapt and behave positively so that they can deal effectively with the challenges of their professional and everyday life.”

A definition based on Review Literature explains soft skills as an umbrella term for skills under three key functional elements: people skills, social skills and personal career attributes. In the 21stcentury, soft skills are a major differentiator, a sine qua non for employability and success in life.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman claims that “Soft skills predict success in life that they casually produce that success, and that programs that enhance soft skills have an important place in an effective portfolio of public policies.”

Soft skills convey more about what a person ‘is’ rather than what he or she ‘knows’. They are the personal attributes that allow us to understand ourselves and others better. It is through our soft skills that we deploy our personality, attitude and behaviour to successfully manage our lives and relationships around us.

Soft skills are yardsticks used by organisations to evaluate employees. They are also used as a measure to understand who should be hired, retained or promoted.

“The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world.”- Lao Tzu (Ancient Chinese Philosopher)

IMPORTANCE OF SOFT SKILLS:

The strength of a nation is strongly dependent on the ability of its citizen to be highly intellectual and skilful. A quality human capital comes from quality education process. Strong soft skills can help one gain confidence- an invaluable trait in the business world.

Soft skills improve one’s ability to work with others and can have a positive influence on furthering one’s career. Soft skills often called people skills or emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to interact amicably with others. Soft skills are identified to be the most critical skills in the current global job market especially in a fast moving era of technology.

A lack of soft skills can limit one’s potential.

“What people get admired and appreciated for in community are their soft skills: their sense of humour and timing, their ability to listen, their courage and honesty, their capacity for empathy.”- M. Scott Peck

IMPORTANCE OF SOFT SKILLS IN PROFESSIONAL LIFE:

Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how well you can work or interact with others. These skills make it easier to form relationships with people, create trust and dependability and lead teams. We use soft skills every day at work and it is important to develop these skills to win more business and accelerate career progression.

By developing strong leadership, delegation, teamwork and communication abilities one can run projects smoothly, deliver results that please everyone and even positively influence personal life by improving how one can interact with others.

IMPORTANCE OF SOFT SKILLS FOR PROFESSIONALS AND STUDENTS – The importance of soft skills for Professionals is as follows:

The Importance of Soft skills are as follows
  1. Career progression and promotion

Ninety-four percent of recruiting professionals believe an employee with stronger soft skills. They have better chance of being promoted to a leadership position.

2. The modern workplace is interpersonal

Skills such as active listening, collaboration, presenting ideas and communicating with colleagues are all highly valued in the modern workplace. Strong soft skills ensure a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment, all crucial attributes for organisation in an increasingly competitive world.

3. Customers and clients demand soft skills

The ability to communicate at a human level with customers is therefore a vital factor in an organisation’s success.

4. The future workplace will rely on soft skills

A study by Deloitte Access Economics predicts that, “Soft Skill- intensive occupation will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.”

“If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.”- Timothy Leary

WHY DO SOFT SKILLS MATTER:

Professional success today depends on a successful amalgamation of hard and soft skills. Soft skills are habits that can be cultivated over time. The first step in this process is self-knowledge and self-awareness. It helps if this process starts early, preferably while one is still a student, as it takes time to acquire these skills.

“Our lives are shaped by our interactions with others. Whether we have a long conversation with a friend or simply place an order at a restaurant, every interaction makes a difference.” – Donald O. Clifton

By centring our lives on correct principles and creating a balanced focus between doing and increasing our ability to do, we become empowered in the task of creating effective, useful and peaceful lives…for ourselves and for our posterity.

WHICH SOFT SKILLS ARE MOST IMPORTANT:

 Blog Side Heading - Some of the Important Soft skills

People with good soft skills tend to have strong situational awareness and emotional intelligence to navigate difficult working environments while still producing positive results. They help people to adapt to changing circumstances.

The following are the most important soft skills:

  1. Leadership

Strong leadership involves combining lots of soft skills- cultivating and maintaining relationships, inspiring, motivating, instilling discipline and lots more. Companies want employees who can supervise and direct other workers. They want employees who can cultivate relationships across the different rungs of organisation. Leaders must assess, motivate, encourage, build teams, resolve conflicts and foster the organisation’s desired culture.

Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what ‘first things’ are. The human will is an amazing thing. Time after time it has triumphed against unbelievable odds.

            “There are good leaders who actively guide and bad leaders who actively misguide.          Hence, leadership is about persuasion, presentation and people skills.”- Shiv Khera

2. Teamwork

Soft skills determine how one can interact with the team. Teamwork can be a powerful motivator and can help in achieving excellent results. Teamwork involves a vast range of soft skills. Working towards a common goal means being able to cooperate and reach to a consensus with others. An individual’s ability to cooperate with a team of people is one of the most valuable business skills.

Effective teamwork draws together a number of together skills like communication skills and interpersonal skills and puts them to use so that these goals can be met.

3. Communication skills

Communication is the key to inspire and motivate people. Communication verbal or written improves relationships between co-workers and improves cooperation and improved performance. Verbal communication refers to the ability to speak clearly and concisely. Nonverbal communication includes the capacity to project positive body language and facial expressions. Written communication refers to the skill in composing text, reports and other documents.Active listening leads to better understanding and greater efficiency.

4. Decision Making/Problem solving

Everyone has to make a decision one day or another in life. Decision making is the process of selecting the best of all possible alternatives. Decisions vary in complexity. Decision making takes care of goal setting and so does self discipline. In the course of life there will be many instances where we will be at cross roads. There may be many options but each option differs from the other. One must learn how to turn complicated lessons into desirable outcomes from experience.The ability to use knowledge to find answers to greater problems and formulate better solutions will demonstrate that one can handle and excel in job. Anyone with particular mindset; those who can approach a problem with a cool and level head will often reach a solution more efficiently.

5. Work Ethic

Work ethics includes being punctual in the work place, meeting deadlines, and making sure that work is error-free. And going the extra mile exhibits commitment in performing one’s work with excellence.

6. Flexibility/ Adaptability

Adaptable people see changes as an opportunity to learn and improve their business. If a person is not ready to learn and improve, if a person is inflexible i.e unable to adapt to various demands imposed by the environment, they are unlikely to succeed in the increasingly competitive world.

            The OECD “Future of Education and Skills 2030 “ report released in 2019 says, “ To         remain competitive ,workers will need to acquire new skills continually, which    requires flexibility, a positive attitude towards lifelong learning and curiosity.”

7. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are the most important soft skills as it is central to building teams with strong foundation of trust and accountability. Interpersonal skills are the skills that we use every day when we communicate and interact with other people both individually and in groups. These skills popularly known as ‘people skills’ are the foundations for success in life. Good interpersonal skills help to communicate more effectively with family and friends. People with strong interpersonal skills work well with other people, including teams, groups formally and informally.  They communicate effectively with others – family, friends, colleagues, customers or clients. They have better relationships at home and at work.

CAN YOU TEACH SOFT SKILLS?

Can you Teach Soft skills? How to teach soft skills for students?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Hard skills are taught in schools, colleges and universities. They are quantifiable. But soft skills are a lot harder to quantify. While you can hand out certificates for skills, like leadership, how do you actually quantify leadership?

However the most effective way to develop students’ soft skills is to incorporate development into various aspects of curriculum. Because of their rising importance the need to teach soft skills has become a major concern for educators and employers all over the world. Teachers and lecturers in schools and colleges can promote soft skills by providing various opportunities for students. This can be done by engaging students in a lot of activities such as:

  1. Team assignments/ projects
  2. Sharing stories of inspiring people/luminaries
  3. Outreach programmes
  4. Arranging competitions like elocution, debate, creative writing
  5. Identifying leadership qualities by giving them responsibilities
  6. Encourage students to develop new thoughts fostering creativity
  7. Short picnics, excursions
  8. Community work to arouse civic sense

In the world of technology there are lot of resources to help educators, students and professionals on soft skills.

Barack Obama has clearly stated that educators must play their part in strengthening the link between education and economy.

WHY SOFT SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT FOR STUDENTS?

Why Soft skills are Important for Students?

To stand out in this competitive world, a student is required to hone many soft skills and abilities. Soft skills help to grow a powerful personality. It helps to stand out and to move forward in everyday activities to reach one’s goal.

Soft skills for students:

Soft skills for students - How it plays important role.

1. Problem solving

Problem solving will help in controlling situations that may get out of hand.

2. Creative thinking

Students need to be creative in their approach which will help them to understand the world better.

3. Teamwork

Students must understand the importance of unity. Working together will always help in producing more. Teamwork requires students to interact with one another to complete a goal/task.

4.Decision making

Self- discipline and decision making help in shaping great careers for students.

5. Intra-personal skills

These skills helps students understand oneself better, thoughts, beliefs and opinions. These skills mould students into better individuals and leaders.

6. Time Management

Time management is something that all students should learn.  Students with practice must learn to complete tasks at a given time. It is said, “Practice makes a man perfect’”

7. Inter-personal skills

These are skills that help you understand others around you. This is important for students to empathize.

8. Communication skills

Students will find communication skills very helpful. These skills will strengthen the rapport between the teacher and the student.

9. Leadership skills

Leadership is an important skill that a student can use further in their life.

10. Positive attitude

Students should acquire this skill to maintain and strengthen relationships with everyone in an educational institution.

11. Responsibility and self-awareness

Responsibility towards one’s studies is reflected in the performance of tasks, meeting deadlines such as notes completion, assignments, and projects and so on.

All these skills will take any student to the pinnacle of glory and such student will be an inspiration to their peers. The importance of soft skills for students is obvious because after a few years of schooling they go to a professional college, the next step is finding a good job. This is when soft skills acquired in student life come handy. These soft skills will prepare students for life.

WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS IN EDUCATION?

The OECD “ Future of Education and Skills 2030” report released in 2019 highlighted the growing importance of soft skills in education due to trends such as globalization and rapid advancements in technology and artificial intelligence , which demands changes of the labour market and the skills future workers require in order to succeed.

As Horace Mann, the great educator once said, “Habits are like a cable. We weave a strand of it every day and soon it cannot be broken.”

Choosing the right course can be a tough decision for students. Confidence and decision making skills are interrelated. When we make good decisions we become more confident, we can face any difficult situations that may arise. To cap it all -preparing students for successful careers is a major part of every educator’s job today. We need to be giving students more than a sum of knowledge reflected by a piece of paper. We need to be giving them the tools they need to be resourceful in a socially perceptible way, to innovate with a group and adapt when new requirement arise.

Let us remember the timeless adage by Lao-tzu, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

If children learn with tolerance

They learn to be patient

If children learn with praise

They learn to appreciate

If children learn with acceptance and friendship

They learn to find love in the world.

Other suggested Reads: Importance Of Soft Skills

The importance of soft skills for students

Importance of Soft Skills in the Workplace

-Cavyashree K A

Asst. Professor

Department of English

Coorg Institute of Technology

Ponnampete, Kodagu