Over the years, skills needed to be an effective worker have been addressed by multiple descriptors. The U.S. Army coined the phrase “soft skills” in the 1960s to apply to skills soldiers need aside from those that employ the use of machinery. At times these skills are referred to as people skills, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, human skills, etc. Lately the teaching of these important skills has been included in social and emotional learning.
Whatever you call them, hiring managers everywhere agree that these skills are a must. In a recent LinkedIn report, 92% of recruiting/hiring professionals said soft skills are equally or more important than technical skills. 89% of the same professional group state that often when new hires do not work out, it is because they lack critical soft skills.
So, what are soft skills and why are they so important to success on the job? Multiple sources list the following as necessary soft skills for success: self-awareness, good communication, empathy, problem-solving, critical thinking, dependability, teamwork, integrity, and professionalism. When employees exude these skills, they show they care about their co-workers, the work they do and the customers, clients or collaborators that are part of their work environment.
Billionaire Warren Buffett is credited with saying that integrity is the most important skill to look for when hiring someone. Integrity encompasses the ability to self-motivate, be honest, and take responsibility. A hiring manager quoted by Forbes magazine stated a key factor in his decision-making process was asking the receptionist how each applicant treated them during their interview process. Respect for others, kindness and professionalism impact getting a job and keeping it.
The workforce and workplace change rapidly but soft skills continue to grow in importance. Deloitte predicts “soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.”
Adult education programs often help learners build these much-needed skills. To support adult education goals for soft skills, KET produced an online version of Workplace Essential Skills which includes a Soft Skills course. A free trial subscription is available. KET also provides free interactive lessons pertaining to soft-skill development in PBS LearningMedia and relevant video content available on our YouTube channel.