Soft skills for 21st century jobs


IN my column last week, I talked about bridging the skills gap. The International Labor Organization understands that a skills gap exists, which is “a difference between the skills an employee should have to successfully perform a role and the skills that an employee or successful candidate has”.

This phenomenon affects both the individual worker or job seeker and companies around the world. In the United States, it is said that “92 percent of executives think their employees are not qualified enough to do their job” (Adecco survey). As the talent war rages on, “less than a third of companies believe they have the talent needed to drive digital transformation in their organizations.” A LinkedIn study shows that “59 percent of hiring leaders struggle Finding and hiring employees with soft skills”.

soft skills

Soft skills are “personal qualities that support situational awareness and improve a person’s ability to get a job done”. They are not the technical skills needed to perform a specific job, such as B. carpentry, engineering or making an architectural drawing. These are skills that enable someone to interact effectively with others to facilitate the use of one’s technical skills in completing a task. They are often referred to as “human skills”.

Investopedia says soft skills “have more to do with who people are than what they know… and employees who demonstrate that they have a good combination of hard and soft skills often see greater demand for their services.” “

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Companies prefer to hire employees with soft skills because they fit the company strategically or culturally. Business leaders and HR leaders agree that hard skills are easier to acquire, while soft skills are harder to develop. In some cases, a person either has the soft skills or they don’t. When employees have soft skills, they talk to each other and collaborate, often resulting in productivity and high-quality products and services.

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21st Century Soft Skills

In the 1980s, several global business, education and government leaders met and published a series of reports identifying key skills and strategies for developing the skills of students and workers for jobs in a changing workplace. They called these skills the skills of the 21st century. Four decades later, the Philippines still needs to realign their education and training systems around these vitally important skills.

Here are some of the so-called soft skills, according to experts. I grouped them under the more dominant and critical skills.

– Critical thinking. Soft skills such as information processing, problem solving, and decision making are distinct soft skills, but they are closely related to critical thinking. 1) Critical thinking is a systematic process of actively conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and processing information gathered or generated through observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication. It’s about making logical and well-thought-out judgments. A critical thinker does not simply accept all arguments and conclusions without questioning them. 2) Problem solving involves analyzing a situation, identifying problems and causes, gathering facts and developing alternative solutions. 3) Decision-making is about choosing a solution based on collected data and facts, while using good judgment.

– communication. My simplest definition of communication is creating understanding. It is the responsibility of both the sender and the recipient to understand the message. Listening is the better part of communication most commonly seen in injuries. Understanding is about interpreting and understanding what is read or heard. It’s about deciphering the message, making a connection between what you read or heard and what you already know, and using what you already know to think deeply about the context of the message. Speaking is the part of communication that everyone wants to do other than speaking in public. Business writing, technical writing, and other forms of the arts require specific skills, including organizing the written work and using proper grammar.

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– Cooperation. This soft skill is about the interpersonal skills that people use to solve a problem, make a decision, or achieve a common goal together. It is also about the ability to lead or work in teams, or commonly referred to as interpersonal skills as this includes the ability to deal with other people, teams and networks. Working together makes it possible to use synergies with others, share responsibilities and burdens, and create a community that can be part of one’s support system.

– creativity. Creativity and innovation usually go together. Creativity is the tendency, ability, or liking to “develop or discern ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems” or in dealing with others. Innovation is the end product of creativity – the successful implementation of creative ideas. Both creativity and innovation are important. Creativity breeds innovation, and innovation creates value that usually benefits others or that customers are willing to pay for.

21st Century Skills are important skills that must be learned by students and workers alike. These skills can help students adapt immediately to the real world of work, as they are the same skills that companies are looking for. Unfortunately, I need to see evidence that these are actually learned in school. On the contrary, the data shows that many job seekers, especially recent graduates, do not meet the requirements for entry-level positions due to a lack of soft skills.

Aside from 21st century skills, I would like to add other soft skills that are just as important and can help job seekers get decent jobs and have a great career. I hesitate to call them “soft skills”. “Hard skills” could give the impression of priority or greater importance. However, some experts say that business and career success requires a combination of 80 percent soft skills and 20 percent hard skills.

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Learning skills include literacy and numeracy (see PISA 2018 test scores, in which the Philippines came last), the thirst for more knowledge (practical knowledge and life skills, not theoretical knowledge that students must memorize), and lifelong To learn.

Adaptability, flexibility, initiative and resourcefulness – these soft skills distinguish employees from those who need close supervision or who cannot decide on something that is not a standard procedure written in the 1970 operations manual.

Productivity, efficiency, professionalism, empathy and work ethic are important qualities that employees must have. These are guided by principles of fairness and decency. They increase individual and organizational performance and contribute to long-term success.

Leadership, self-management, work planning, time management and organizational talent – these are soft skills that give an idea of ​​an employee’s potential.

Technology and digital skills – these are much needed as most jobs now and in the near future will be technology based or technology based.

Peggy Klaus, author of The Hard Truth About Soft Skills, said, “Soft skills are underrespected, but your career will make or break your success.”

Ernie Cecilia is Chair of the Human Capital Committee and Publication Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham); Chair of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) TWG for Labor Policy and Social Issues; and past President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP). He can be reached at [email protected]



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