Why Teach Soft Skills?
In the Seattle Jobs Initiative’s recent survey on the importance of soft skills, 75% of employers say soft skills are as important or more important than technical skills in entry-level employment. National surveys of employers paint a similar picture, and research on predicting the future career success of students supports employers’ opinions: some soft skills are better than technical skills as a predictor of adult success (in things like salary, graduation, and home ownership).
McDonald’s backs soft skills. Based on a recent study, McDonald’s estimates that as of January 2015, soft skills such as listening and communicating effectively, being positive, managing conflict, accepting responsibility, working well with others, managing time, and accepting criticism are “worth over £88 billion in ‘Gross Value Added’ to the UK economy.” This amounts to around 6.5% of the economy as a whole.”
Did you know that 46 percent of new hires fail in the first 18 months and 89 percent of them failed for reasons related to “attitude”? Only 11 percent failed due to a lack of “hard” technical skills. In most jobs, effective work performance requires specific technical skills. But what about non-technical skills, such as an employee’s ability to communicate, form relationships, and prioritize tasks? These soft skills are often marginalized in education and training programs. However, they are just as crucial to business success as the more recognized “hard skills.” Seventy-seven percent of employers say so.
Recent research suggests that soft skills and certain personality traits may predict success in life (in things like labor market success, overall educational achievement, crime, health) better than secondary credentials such as the GED. Programs that enhance soft skills have an important place in education in general.