'Soft Skills' or not 'Soft Skills' that is the question?
A recent survey that was undertaken by LinkedIn concluded that the Number 1 priority for L&D programs was - 'How To Train For Soft Skills', in the age when automation / adaptability rules. The demand for 'Soft Skills' will continue to accelerate. Industry experts and organisational partners agree that this should be the top focus for talent development.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
"Soft Skills - which are needed to effectively communicate, problem solve, collaborate and organise - are becoming more important for success as the workplace evolves socially and technologically"
NB: The data above included - 1,200 Talent Developers - 200 Executives and 400 People Managers
Why are they called Soft Skills?
Ha, ha, in all honesty, I find this a really interesting question / debate?
Having worked for a number of years in the USA, both East & West coast, 'Soft Skills' was a recognised term, without any prejudice. In the UK, in my view the term 'Soft Skills' until recently was also generally accepted and understood.
Recently however on both sides of the pond I get more 'objection' to the phrase soft skills, it must be said this objection is aired in a very polite way - 'I'd rather not call them soft skills' or 'I don't really like the term soft skills'.
I can't be definitive, but I genuinely believe that the term 'Soft Skills' probably evolved so that it could easily sit beside 'Hard Skills'. In a World where automation, process and adaptability rule, does the phrase 'Soft Skills' undersell the capabilities required to address the complex issues that arise in a highly connected global business?
These days people prefer a number of options - People Skills - I actually like the term 'People Skills', my only slight issue is it immediately makes your focus on people! A key requirement in business today, which is often labelled under the 'Soft Skills' heading is problem solving, this does not always just require People Skills!
A preferred definition, in my view is Essential Skills - simply put, the interpersonal attributes that are required to succeed in today's complex interconnected global business environment. However, having recently spent a week undertaking a number of workshops in UK Further Education establishments, I can honestly say that if I'd asked for a definition of what 'Essential Skills' are vs 'Soft Skills', they would have replied Maths & English.
One of the key issues in this debate is language? Why?
Recently as discussed we have spoken to over 100 people aged between 17 and 22 (not a huge number I know). A key 'Essential Skill' to CEO's is Timekeeping. Timekeeping to a high proportion of society means, well timekeeping! When you delve deeper into the minds of CEO's and question the term, what they actually mean by Timekeeping is the ability to deliver things on time - they sit in meetings looking at various status reports that shout out Red or Amber and require answers as to WHY things are not getting delivered as originally planned. A totally fair question, but one that is, in my opinion confused when labelled to the masses as poor Timekeeping skills.
A piece of research recently undertaken by Leadership IQ found that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18mths, whilst only 19% will achieve unequivocal success! However contrary to popular belief, technical skills are not the primary reason why new hires fail; instead, poor interpersonal skills dominate the list, flaws which many of their managers admit were overlooked during the interview process.
I guess this discussion will continue, 'Soft Skills' - 'People Skills' - 'Essential Skills'.
Here at Applio.....
We are currently undertaking a three way partnership to investigate the delivery of 'Soft Skills', supporting both the SME and FE sectors.
The partnership brings together the Applio - Game Based Learning platform, content from BMET and funding from Ufi. A key deliverable of this adventure is to provide the solution to the UK SME sector for free, (you need to sign-up for the programme), thus providing an innovative, easy to use platform for training in the areas of Soft, Essential or People Skills.
If you are a forward thinking SME and would like to follow, or sign-up for this exciting opportunity, please do get in touch. Speak later!