Meet with any Human Resources manager and ask “what is the one thing you would like to see in your employees?”; without fail their answer will be related to soft skills. Soft skills are those personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. They are a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well and achieve their goals. In contrast to these skills are “Hard Skills” the skills that are job specific such as welding, brick laying, building, etc.
Employers tell Career Development folks that they can teach the job specific skills without any issue. It is the worker’s ability to get along with others, be on time, put away their cell phone and the like that come so difficult with employees in today’s workforce.
To this end, our CTE department has decided this year to have a monthly Soft Skills focus. Each CTE middle and high school teacher has a soft skills spotlight location in their classroom. As the Career Development Coordinator, I send them each month a new soft skill poster to place in this area. Also, each middle and high school principal receive a monthly announcement to read at least once a week to the entire student body about the importance of soft skills.
Further, throughout the year, at about six week intervals, I send a publication home to 8th grade students that include some tips about improving their current soft skills and work ethic topics. These handouts are sent to the middle school students via homeroom and are passed on to the students at that time.
Finally, the United States Department of Labor has also developed a curriculum to help youth develop soft skills. This curriculum includes communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and professionalism.
More information about this program can be located at https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/youth/softskills/.