With an entire education system dedicated to achieving academic excellence, the crucial role that soft skills play in facilitating students’ success is often overlooked.
Traditional school setup puts more emphasis on technical competencies or hard skills. These include quantifiable abilities in comprehension, arithmetic, language, writing, and analytics. Soft skills, on the other hand, pertain to character traits and non-technical competencies such as problem-solving, work ethic, communication, teamwork, and leadership. Both these skills are necessary for students to survive and succeed in the real world.
However, despite the importance of both hard and soft skills in students’ overall development, schools seem to focus more on training technical competencies. More often than not, hard skills become the measuring stick for students’ overall capacity. With an added value placed on test results and academic ability, soft skills are not rigorously exercised in the same way.
The truth of the matter is, interpersonal competencies have powerful effects on students’ academic life and career. So, how valuable are soft skills in furthering the scholastic performance of individuals?
Soft Skills Enhance Academic Ability
Soft skills can greatly improve students’ technical competencies. When they develop emotional intelligence and social skills, learning becomes a more enriching experience.
Because in reality, the pressure of grades and test scores is not entirely helpful in the process of effective learning. Oftentimes, students experience troubles in how they approach their education. Luckily, focusing more on teaching soft skills can actually improve their overall performance in class.
In fact, studies suggest that striking a balance between hard skills and soft skills has positive effects on how students approach their schooling. The experiment showed that there were reduced cases of suspensions and absences among students. Aside from that, incorporating activities that train hard and soft skills prompted a significant increase in their test results.
By working on improving students’ soft skills, they develop habits that are beneficial to them. They learn to solve problems, handle responsibility, adapt to their environment, manage their emotions, and put the necessary effort into their studies.
This practically shows the link between character development and education, so as early as preschool, schools should already train students on how to develop soft skills.
But how can soft skills training be incorporated in normal schooling? Well, this doesn’t mean that technical subjects are not important. It’s just a matter of giving equal importance to developing students’ emotional intelligence and social skills. By integrating activities that hone interpersonal competencies in core subjects, schools can yield the best results in terms of academics and overall character.
So, instead of purely revolving around the rules of Algebra, English grammar, and History timelines, slide in ways to touch on their soft skills. Incorporate tasks that could help them exercise how they empathize, interact, communicate, handle responsibility, and manage their time, which are all essential competencies students need in school and the real world.
Employers Value Soft Skills More
Soft skills are also important when you leave the halls of your school. In fact, 75% of your ability to stay in a job relies heavily on your soft skills.
Once you enter the workforce, the personal competencies that you possess are more important than the technical knowledge you picked up in school. You don’t get to exercise all those arithmetic, Spanish, and computer tricks as often as you thought. But your people skills and emotional intelligence are always required of you.
In fact, almost all your soft skills are necessary for you to operate in a corporate setting. When you start working, aside from your knowledge, your ability to collaborate, to take in criticisms, to show initiative, to handle external pressure, and to resolve conflict will all be put to the test. This makes soft skills as valuable as ever.
More so, there seems to be a shift in the labor market in recent years as more companies put a higher value on employees’ interpersonal competencies. Since good social skills translate to better job performance, companies make it a point to hire employees with better social skills than hard skills.
In addition, the National Association of College and Employees (NACE) revealed that companies consider teamwork, writing competency, and problem-solving skills as top characteristics they look for in an employee. Technical skills are only valued at 59%, according to the survey.
This can be attributed to the fact that analytical competence and specialized expertise do not often translate to exemplary performance in a setup that involves collaboration, creativity, and work ethics.
So, how do you improve your soft skills? Immerse yourself in tasks that challenge your social skills and refine your character traits. It can be through joining interactive discussions or taking on responsibilities that test your ability to handle stress. There are plenty of materials, self-help books, and online courses designed to teach emotional intelligence and social skills.
Academic excellence does not equate to students’ success in the real world. Equal development of hard skills and soft skills will allow them to maximize their overall potential and eventually land the best career opportunities out there.