Teaching Soft Skills
CNBC recently had Tony Tjan on the program and he talked about how the entire economy is in a “flux” when it comes to jobs. The skills that are needed vs what we’re teaching isn’t fitting together, the result is we have people coming out of high school and college unable to find a job. Tony says the need in the workplace is for “Soft Skills.” What are soft skills, welding is a hard skill, or painting. These are the skills needed during the Industrial area we are now stepping out of. The reason soft skills are now important is because most work places are so specific they have to teach you how to do the job anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you learned how to project manage in a book on a theoretical subject, what matters is your ability to manage “this specific project right here in front of us.” You will learn how to do it on the job, what’s important is your ability to learn.
Think about it, most jobs are now soft skills: accounting, project management, reception, teaching!, sales & marketing, instruction & manual writing, engineering, etc. Look at it this way, as of this writing Google employs over 44,700 people and probably 90% of those jobs require soft skills and not hard skills. The stuff we’re teaching at Phiolo. Soft skills are people skills, self management skills, communication, self discipline, a willingness to work hard, passion, spelling & grammar, and even math.
Rediff.com, a good article on 60 soft skills employers are looking for here, so I’m not going to re-list them. However, when I look at this list I say, “Yea um, standard schools don’t teach you any of this stuff and I don’t see how almost any of these skills will be evaluated on the SATs.” These are the skills companies need employees to have, and this is why our education system, all the way through college, is missing something very critical.
The key word is critical. Teaching people critical thinking skills will allow them to build all of those soft skills on their own. It’s actually more about how you teach than what you teach. Teaching in a methodology that requires students to practice soft skills….improves soft skills! Go figure. This makes sense, the more you practice something the better you get at it, therefore the more you practice soft skills the better you get at them, regardless of the subject matter.
That being said, what if the content was about soft skills? A double whammy! The Phiolo Empowerment Curriculum is specifically designed to help students practice soft skills AND the content is on the subject matter as well. This double dose of soft skill training propels Phiolo students well beyond their counterparts at traditional high schools and even more than most colleges. The result is students with the soft skills needed immediately ready to enter the workforce. The reason for this is because people learn how to do their job at the job, they rarely need prior training or experience to enter into an entry level position.
Put yourself in an employer’s shoes: you have a job opening that you know will be “taught on the go.” You have 2 candidates in front of you; one with tremendous soft skills including a likable personality and a passion about getting things done with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, or a college grad who has no experience at the job and is there because they read a book on how to do it. Which one would you hire?