The world is changing more quickly than any of us can imagine. The rapid emergence of machine learning and AI are changing the way we work and lead - and the jobs we do. For those of us with children, it can be hard what will prepare future generations with the skills they need for an uncertain world – but teaching soft skills in Australian schools plays a critical role.
In a fast changing world, it seems increasingly necessary to equip our children with the soft skills required to help them adapt, to imagine and to create. Adecco Group’s Soft Skills Imperative report states that “soft skills are becoming a business imperative because legacy skills are losing relevance as the nature of work is disrupted”.
So why are these skills so important?
The working landscape is nothing like it was when we were kids. According to the World Economic Forum “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist”.
And unlike former generations that enjoyed relative stability of employment within a given sector (and sometimes with a single employer), the Foundation for Young Australians suggests that our children would on average make at least 17 changes in employers, across five different careers over their lifetime.
Ambiguity brings possibilities
While the ambiguity of this new and emerging future can be unsettling, the ability to have multiple careers within a working life offers exciting potential for greater professional growth and satisfaction.
But our kids need to be equipped with new and different kinds of skills to take advantage of this new, fast-moving employment landscape. These are the soft skills that teach us how to collaborate, create and innovate. They make our children stand out to potential employers of the future.
Technology will set us free
Some experts paint technology as an adversary. However, we believe that the future is far brighter. We live in a world where technology is making things possible that could only be imagined a decade ago. To take advantage of this, our children need to be able to come together, communicate clearly and efficiently, and create the future we need.
The NBN Future of Work report suggests that “the future job market places high demand on jobs with a mixture of high tech, touch, and care activities”. It goes on to say that “The high demand jobs of the future are all about occupations that ‘connect’” – jobs that “jobs share a high level of personal interaction: creatives, doers and technocrats, care givers and high skilled specialist professions”.
Humans crave connection
This ability to connect requires a mix of soft skills which include communication skills, the development of high emotional intelligence and empathy, the ability to manage stress and difficult situations, and the capacity to think and act strategically.
Soft skills are already becoming highly sought-after. According to Adecco, “soft skills have value in themselves and are a good barometer of job candidates’ facility for adapting to change and contributing to the organizational agility that is essential to success in today’s market.”
This will only increase as we recognise the essential role that soft skills play as the connective tissue between our hard skill “muscles”.
Like digital literacy, soft skill literacy will become a regular requirement for job applicants of the future. We need to build those human soft skills into the curriculum of our schools now to ensure that we equip and develop the good humans and hyper-adaptive workers of the future.
Need some new skills for managing conflict? Book a FREE personal one-on-one soft skills assessment session, and find out how soft skills could benefit you or your workplace.