"It takes more than subject knowledge to get on in life – the modern world requires children to develop strong social skills as workplaces are transformed by technology."
What are Soft Skills?
Parents if you want to ensure that your child is prepared to enter the workforce then you must encourage them to improve their soft skills. Soft skills are simply "people" skills. Skills like communication, leadership, collaboration, analytical thinking, creative problem solving, and social & emotional intelligence fall under the soft skills umbrella.
Many classrooms are focused on improving test scores, graduation, and attendance rates, but many lack a strong focus on soft skills. Yes, all of those topics are very important but technology has changed the game when it comes to job skills. Technology has evened the playing field for a lot of students and it is your child's ability to think outside of the box that will separate him or her from the competition.
GG Lai of BNP Paribas China said, “Yes we like the engineer but to the other extent we really appreciate people with the thinking outside the box, with a very liberal arts background, so they can imagine things, and I think that will push the engineer to move," and According to the Global Education & Skills Forum report, "a teacher’s ability to improve soft skills has more effect on high school graduation rates than raising test scores."
How To Improve Soft Skills
During our iMar Youth Leadership Academy our students focus on our BIG 6 Skills of Critical Thinking (creative problem solving, analytical thinking, collaboration, communication, social & emotional intelligence, and leadership). We chose these because heading into 2020 these are the skills that employers want.
Four of our BIG 6 Skills are listed in Avil Beckford's Forbes article, The Skills You Need to Succeed in 2020. Beckford writes, "Of these, you want to focus on creative work, because that is where you are likely to remain employable. Every professional can be creative in the work she does."
Giving students the opportunity to be creative is an easy way to help students develop skills that are in high demand. A.I. will soon be able to complete a lot of white and blue collar job tasks. Employers will need creative thinkers and problems solvers that are able to connect unseen dots.
John Koetsire in his article, AI Will Transform 500 Million White-Collar Jobs In 5 Years writes, "white collar workers are no less at risk of disruption than blue-collar. And perhaps more so. After all, they can largely be replaced by software, which is cheap to replicate, while robots and automation are still expensive to purchase and maintain."
As teachers, parents, business leaders, and politicians we have to recognize that the shift has happened, technology has changed the when, where, why, and how we work. It is our job to prepare the next generation for success.
We have developed amazing technology that has changed the game but it is also our duty to teach them how to play by the new rules.