The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) each quarter convenes its Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) to discuss workplace trends and essential job skills that students need to know so they can get hired. “Soft skills” is always a big discussion point. The employers on the CTC’s BILT time and time again express the belief that technical skills can be sharpened and strengthened, but it can be an impossible task to correct bad soft skills, poor teamwork, and clumsy communication. As one recent keynote speaker suggested (Josh Davies from The Center for Work Ethic Development at the 2019 WASTC ICT Educators conference) few workers are ever terminated over bad technical skills; instead, the reason for firing almost always comes down to a lack of interpersonal skills and an inability to work with others within the structure of the organization.
This perspective is supported by a recent article that appeared on LinkedIn looking at the Top Talent Trends for 2019. It’s no surprise that a survey of 5000 HR professionals around the world named “soft skills” (with a whopping 91% response rate) as a “very important” recruiting trend. Specifically, the survey lists creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management as soft skills traits in high demand.
Interestingly, only 41% of the respondents report that their company has a system in place to assess soft skills and the LinkedIn article suggests a few tools – including sophisticated and expensive predictive analysis applications from Koru and Pymetrics – to help with that.
Faculty may want to also consider a column*on the two most important questions in assessing leadership in an interview: the “most significant accomplishment question” that asks the candidate to describe a personal success comparable to one of the job’s most important objectives and the “problem-solving question” that seeks to understand how the candidate would solve a problem rather than simply looking for the correct solution. Maybe this is a framework worth exploring in your classroom as a way to prepare students for how hiring managers approach job candidates.