Relevance of Soft Skills for Teachers
In a progressively diverse and globalized job market, school education, degree/diploma, certifications, skill development, job readiness, and suitable employment have become buzzwords in discourses on education taking place at the global level.
Educational leaders from across the world have been continuously debating on pedagogical practices being followed in the schools and their effects on students and teachers.
Also, the speed at which the financial and career settings are getting shifted proposes a more thoughtful and well-composed approach to education which is essential to ensure that all students pass K-12 school grades not just with subject matter knowledge but capabilities that enable them to engage productively with the environment so that they can apply themselves and succeed in their respective professions with success.
What are Soft Skills and its Significance in today’s scenario
Soft skills are a set of skills that contribute to a positive and engaging demeanor and amounts to enhanced presentability of an individual. Soft skills facilitate productive and reinvigorating interactions. They become critical in gaining a competitive edge while competing for a highly sought-after job and in carrying oneself with maximum effect in day to day life.
Soft skills range from the art of effective communication and its nuances like maintaining eye contact and attentive listening. Learning and preparing for solving the critical problems, listening to others, asking intelligent questions follow.
School Teachers must design a list of soft skills, review them before sharing it with objectivity and discuss the list with all their school students, and then, act on implementing those activities.
Soft skills include a combination of social skills, communication skills, acquired personality traits, attitudes and approaches besides specific career-advancing skills, emotional intelligence. These skills make the environment conducive for productive and fulfilling engagement besides making collaboration with others easy.
We are in an era where skills are no less valued than the degrees and certifications. The technological giants like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, IBM and many more have even announced publicly that they are looking for the candidates with soft skills and creativity that doesn’t necessarily come with the traditional educational practices.
Students in the conventional education set up which stresses on scholastic achievement almost exclusively tend to lose the motivation for gaining soft skills. All the same, India’s economy is, and will remain, desperately in need of a generation full of skills and creativity.>
“In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive, and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding." - Sir Daniel Goleman
A study performed by McKinsey Organization found that 60% of the job providers worldwide in the market think that graduates are not enough skilled or aren’t ready to deliver at the workplace. One of the reasons for this is the lack of soft skills.
Established companies in the market are striving to build up their brand equity and are looking for creative and definitive ways to stand out in this competitive world. Given the scenario, industries need adroit leaders who must have soft skills in their arsenal besides professional competence.
To replenish the pool of leadership and creativity, the market is looking for graduates who can communicate about their business with the market and raise their productivity by utilizing their soft skills.
It must be said that in this area even the students with outstanding hard skills (tech skills or subject knowledge) are seen as wanted.
According to LinkedIn Author Gregory Lewis, in the 21st century, 57% of leaders claimed that soft skills are much more important than hard skills.
Many reports get published in 2019 shares the data which are clearly stating that the K-12 students and college students’ needs to work on their soft skills and learn the interpersonal skills as early as possible.
For students, soft skills are all about behavior or thinking or personal features and reasoning skills. While there are no ready and objective tests for soft skills, they are readily manifest in the way one carries oneself.
Since 15-20 years, myself as an educational leader have been traveling across the country and visiting the number of K-12 schools and educational institutions to understand the ground realities and hence I have observed the Indian schooling system closely.
In schools, students are persistently motivated to be good at academics but, for instance, when they were asked to express themselves then they find themselves at loss of words. In schools, I could see that the teachers were putting much of their efforts in teaching them the allotted syllabus but they could hardly provide the soft skills education to all those students coming to the schools. I believe that the development and honing of soft skills, among which, communication is primary, can and must go hand in hand with academics.
Primary Soft Skills for K-12 Schools
Creativity in Expression; Individuals need to have the out of box thinking, should have an innovative approach and should solve the problems in a creative way but expressing oneself creatively and in accord with the stance of the audience is the soft skill which is critical to demonstrate creativity with success.
Collaboration; Students need to have a collaborative approach towards the work given. This skill promotes a teamwork attitude. Sensing the mood and sensibilities of one’s teammates is an important skill that determines cohesion and productivity.
Communication: This is by far the most important factor for students to succeed in their careers. Good communication can help individuals to connect with people very easily and share their views very confidently. It should be practiced both in an oral and written way.
Time Management; Punctuality matters the most when it comes about working in the market. An individual should be able to manage his/her time by
Stress Management; The skill to handle stress and work productively under pressure without losing confidence and inculcation of healthy distractions
Adaptability; It’s essential for the younger generation to be flexible enough in order to adjust to the changing work environment and should have the willingness to change and step out of the comfort zone.
According to a research published based on “Developing Soft Skills in students” by Minu Wats from D.A.V College Chandigarh, and Rakesh Kumar Wats from National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training & Research Chandigarh; maximum students said that the soft skills in them are helping them in increasing the level of their confidence and better understanding, good outcomes from job interviews.
In the 21st Century, soft skills and interpersonal skills are in high demand, due to the market seeking workforce with not only professional and technical skills or hard skills, but also the ability to collaborate and work together as a team, critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities, professionalism and discipline, and effective communication for developing the good network and connections in the market. The current K-12 students are going to be in college and graduate, and then they need to get into the market to apply all their learning to actualize their potential. Policymakers, educationists, teachers, and parents need to think that academic subjects and soft skills teaching must be interlinked so that it becomes easy to make school learning experience complete in the true sense of the word.
So when are you planning to teach your students about SOFT SKILLS? Don’t you want to make your students ready for future jobs?
Please start it today because we believe that you the Indian schooling organizations and visionary educators can empower the student generation and help them in living a better life. Let’s create an impact!
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.