What the experts say - Global
Soft skill development is a global phenomenon
A UK report in 2015 found that by 2020, over half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills. The same report also found that soft skills contributed £88 billion to the UK economy at time of publication – with this expected to increase to £109 billion during the next five years.
So critical was the need for a soft skills developed workforce that Tesco, McDonalds and a range of public institutions created the "backing soft skills" campaign to increase awareness and promote the need for soft skills development across the UK. Statistics from the US and across the globe support the growing need for humans soft skills in our increasingly technology-dependent world. In Australia and across the planet, soft Skills are the new drivers of business performance and growth.
Global soft skill Insights...
Adaptable learners are in high demand.
The world’s leading CEOs are publicly asserting the importance of learning and skills in a constantly evolving global economy.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said: “We want to be not a ‘know-it-all’ but a ‘learn-it-all’ organization.”
In a recent annual letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos emphasized high standards and teachable skills.
Elon Musk has a well-developed idea of how to build knowledge: ensure that your basic, structural understanding is sound, so the information and knowledge you acquire has a firm basis and a good place to go.
Harvard Business Review
Soft skills that emphasise collaboration emerged higher than individual skills and are just as important as technical prowess.
There is not just a talent war – it’s a famine. To succeed, companies must hire, develop, and retain talent better than their competition.
Digital projects are focused on creating superior customer and employee experiences, and soft skills have become just as important as technical ones. Those in greatest demand are teamwork (74% of digital initiatives), leadership (70%), and communication (68%).
Contributor: Pravin Rao, Chief Operating Officer, Infosys
Our emotional intelligence is what sets us apart.
It’s no secret that interpersonal skills are the way of the future. In fact, it’s likely they will define your future. A 2018 LinkedIn global survey of 4,000 professionals concluded that “training for soft skills is the number-one priority.”
Why? Soft skills—often referred to as emotional intelligence, or EQ—are what set us apart. According to a 2015 LinkedIn report, people with high EQ make on average $29,000 more than their non-emotionally intelligent counterparts.
The bottom line is that you’ll thrive in the job market if you have strong interpersonal skills.
Fast Company US
Soft skills key for a successful career
A recent report from the World Economic Forum found that the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not even exist 10 or even five years ago.
"Large global organisations such as Google, EY, Costco, Whole Foods, Hilton, Apple, Starbucks and IBM no longer require a degree for their roles.
Our world is changing at a rapid speed with new digital technologies emerging constantly. Employers today are aware qualifications obtained in 2015 may not necessarily be relevant for a position they may be in today."
"Today, there's a move for employers and career seekers to tune into their soft skills. These skills have never been a focus for university learners, despite recent research highlighting why soft skills are considered a key ingredient for a successful career.
Supported by the fact that hard skills are easier and faster to learn than soft skills, we can see why businesses are leaning towards hiring 80 per cent on culture fit and 20 per cent on skills."
Jane Kennelly, of Frog Recruitment speaks with NZ Herald
You may be a computer whiz, a scientific genius, or a master of mathematical theories. However, to be successful, you need more than just expertise in your given specialty.
In fact, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employees (NACE), when participating employers were asked to name the attributes they seek in candidates, they gave their highest scores to the following three traits:
- Written Communication Skills (82%)
- Problem Solving Skills (80.9%)
- Ability to Work in a Team (78.7%)
Interestingly, technical skills (59.6%) and computer skills (55.1%), often considered among the most important skills an applicant can possess in today’s high-tech job market, ranked quite low by comparison.
A recent study by Gallup showed that companies failed to hire managers with the rights skills - 82% of the time!
That’s a daunting statistic. Leaders who are ill-equipped to motivate and inspire employees will certainly struggle to understand when they are abusing technology’s benefits.
Companies need to overhaul their recruitment and interviewing practices to assess both professional skills and soft skills.
Leaders need ongoing training and coaching to achieve high performance work cultures. Training is not an annual one time only event, it is a process.
Learning never ends and leaders are never done growing.
The soft skills of engineering require collaboration
It’s not all about technical content. A collaborative environment is required to build up vital soft skills such as co-operation and leadership.
Indeed, soft skills are sometimes described as “future skills” because employers forecast that these are the attributes they will look for when hiring graduates, and the ones that people will need to remain employable as technology continues to evolve and the workplace rapidly changes. Yet these are the skills of the past as well as the future.
Sarah Hitt, Full Professor in Engineering Education at NMITE which is aiming to revolutionise engineering education.
Why soft skills matter
When it comes to taking soft skills seriously training should be top of the agenda for a business that wants to promote individual and organisational excellence.
Training and continued personal development are at the core of EY’s values, and while hard skills are developed through the firm’s professional qualifications, on-the-job training and global learning curriculum, soft skills are given equal attention through schemes such as mentoring, coaching and counselling (career development and performance reviews).
Julie Bisson, Executive Director, Assurance and People Leader at EY Channel Islands
Jobs are changing
Anything that is routine or repetitive will be automated,” said Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics, in a session on Saving Economic Globalization from Itself.
She also spoke of the importance of “the soft skills, creative skills. Research skills, the ability to find information, synthesise it, make something of it.”
World Economic Forum
The real skills gap
Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center has concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).
This research finds its beginning with the work of Charles Riborg Mann from a Study of Engineering Education in 1918. There is a span of almost 100 years since Mann published his findings. But, what have we done with this information learned so long ago?
The short answer: Not enough.
The long answer: While soft skills are increasingly becoming the hard skills of today’s workforce, many people continue to come to organisations without them. As we learned 100 years ago, it’s just not enough to be highly trained in technical skills without developing soft skills.
Soft skills are an important part of data scientist jobs. From business value to interpersonal communication, many nontechnical skills are important to data science projects.
Jeff Herman is not a locomotives expert. His background is in math and engineering, followed by additional study in data science.
But when he was a data scientist for a railroad company, his job was to look at data about locomotives in order to make predictions about them.
Since he wasn't a locomotives expert, he needed to find people at the company who were.
"Having good relationships with those people would make my job easier," he said. And relationships don't just happen, he said. "A big part of teamwork is providing value to the people on the other side."
Relationship building and teamwork are key soft skills for data scientist jobs. There are other necessary skills such as communication, ethics and understanding business value, which aren't the skills people normally think of when they think about data science.
Data science soft skills make the difference
According to a survey released late last year by MIT and the Boston Consulting Group, 40% of organisations making significant investments in AI do not report business gains from AI.
The benefits of soft skills training can be hard to measure, but new research reveals that it can bring substantial return on investment to employers while also benefiting employees.
Namrata Kala, an assistant professor of economics at MIT Sloan, with colleagues at the University of Michigan and Boston College, set out to answer those questions. Partnering with Indian garment manufacturer Shahi Exports, Private Limited, they ran a randomized controlled trial across five factories in Bangalore.
They found that a 12-month soft skills training program that focused on communication, problem solving and decision-making, time and stress management, financial literacy, legal literacy and social entitlements, and execution excellence delivered substantial returns....When comparing the final program costs against increased revenue, Kala and her colleagues found that in-factory soft skills training returned roughly 250 percent on investment within eight months of its conclusion.
MIT Management Sloan School