Soft skills are getting a rebrand… and it is about time, says Dr Martina Carroll-Garrison
The term “soft skills” is not new.
It’s been in mainstream usage for a long time.
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s the U.S. Army we can thank for inventing the term in the first place. Originally coined in the late 1960s, the term has been used to refer to any skills that do not make use of machinery. And, in more recent times, technology.
As a result, the term can be considered to describe more emotional and psychological skill sets.
And while more and more attention has been placed on the venue of soft skills, they’ve also been viewed as of secondary importance compared to the hardcore technical skills businesses might hire for.
The fact that the adjective “soft” appears in the term hasn’t helped either.
Soft skills get you hired and promoted
However, soft skills are now moving centre stage and attracting more attention for their transformative power.
In a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research (USA) , data points to how the demand for STEM jobs with cognitive skills is slowing down.
And the demand for STEM jobs with social skills (soft skills) is going up.
Furthermore, a few years back, in 2019, LinkedIn released a report titled “Global Talent Trends”.
In this report 89% of recruiters said that when a hire didn’t work out, it was due to a lack of soft skills.
Moving forward to 2021, in a work environment utterly transformed by the pandemic, Monster Hiring’s report “The Future of Work 2021: Global Hiring Outlook” states that the top traits employers ask for are:
Suffice to say, soft skills don’t only get you hired… they get you promoted too.
Reframing soft skills
Udemy, the global online course provider, released their “Workplace Learning Trends Report” at the beginning of 2022.
The report states, “It’s no secret that the demands of the workplace are changing. Whether it’s adapting to a remote or hybrid setting, building more diverse, equitable and inclusive organizations all finding new ways to enhance productivity working in a state of constant flux is now accepted and expected.
All this change doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has a very real impact on employees and their ability to excel. Keeping up with constant change, both in the industry and the workplace, is a serious challenge. This is why nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect them to develop within the next five years.”
The report goes on to say, “The most in-demand skills aren’t just about staying ahead of the technical curve. skills related to leadership, teamwork, communication, productivity and wellness are critical to every employee’s performance. This is why it no longer makes sense to call them soft skills, as if they represent a less important set of skills in the workplace. These skills aren’t just nice to have. They’re essential for changing the workplace.
It’s for this reason that “soft skills” are becoming known as “power skills”.
And power skills cannot be replicated by robots and machines.
Power skills future-proof your career
There is nothing soft about power skills.
According to McKinsey & Company, “In a labour market that is more automated, digital, and dynamic, all citizens will benefit from having a set of foundational skills.”
These are skills that allow you too:
- Add value beyond what can be done by automated systems and intelligent machines.
- Operate in a digital environment.
- Continually adapt to ways of working and new technologies.
By developing your power skills, the future of work looks bright.
For both employees and employers.
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