Teaching Students Soft Skills for Advancement in the Workplace

Written by Anne Silva

There is a controversy that has been going around both the educational system and the workplace of today and it is related to soft skills. The evolution of the educational system has been, admittedly, much slower than it is expected to be. Up to this day, most schools—both in the Philippines and around the globe—have been adhering to the Industrial Age type of education that teaches the youth to be obedient and understand the most basic sources of knowledge, some of which are not practical unless you plan to be working as a blue-collar employee.

These outdated teachings, not only affects how you can become successful in the workplace, but also how you tread the real world where there are a whole lot of different skills you need in order to actually achieve your goals. It calls for becoming aware of and learning soft skills—and these are the actual tools you will need in order to become successful, both in the workplace and in life.

The Soft Skills Most Needed in the Workplace

What are soft skills, might you ask? Soft skills are different abstract characteristics which are combinations of interpersonal skills, character traits, career attributes, and emotional intelligence which can all determine your potential to succeed. In the workplace today, there are five major skills that you need in order to advance the ladder:

1. Leadership

Leadership is one of the most important skills that you need to learn especially if you want to someday become an executive or even a head of a corporation. When you become a leader, you are given the trust of your colleagues in leading and guiding them to become successful in your goals as a group or a team. Becoming a leader will entail learning how to manage people, developing others’ potentials, and building their morale. As a leader, you will also be needing to learn effective delegation of tasks for the benefit of both the company and each of your colleagues.

The main factor to becoming a great leader is when other people trust you enough to allow you to lead them or, in a better way, to follow you by their own choice. But becoming a great leader will be learned best when you have learn all the other soft skills needed in the workplace.

2. Collaboration and Teamwork

When you want to become successful in the workplace, being a good team player would be required. As an African proverb would say, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” No one person has become the success they have become by going through the journey alone, same as you would not become successful and achieve your success by not collaborating with others.

Becoming an effective team player will teach you how to listen to other people and negotiate with them on how to reach your common goal in the best and most efficient way possible. This is one of the most important things you would need to learn especially if you are a loner—and this is exactly why you are given group projects by your professors.

3. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

One of the more important, and evident, skills needed to become successful in the workplace after graduating is becoming an effective communicator. Not only will you need to learn verbal and nonverbal communication but also understanding how to communicate using body language and gestures; this would be one of the most important skills you would need especially if you are looking to persuade a client, a customer, or even a manager to work with you in the best way possible.

You will also need to learn empathy especially when you want to properly connect with others—this will require for you to not just hear others out, but actually listen and understand what they mean to say. This will greatly help in professional networking as well since being empathetic with others will be needed for you to grow your connections and increase the number of people who would support you in whatever endeavor you so choose to take on.

4. Creative Problem Solving

Of course, no successful person has gone through the road less traveled by having a clear path with no blockages and obstructions in the road. The main skill you would need before being able to successfully solve or resolve any problem is by being emotionally intelligent and being in control of your own emotions. So many people, once they hit rock bottom or experience any sort of problem, they immediately back down because of the feeling of dejection or frustration they have; but if you are emotionally resilient, no problem is ever too big or impossible to overcome.

Creative problem solving is a skill you will immediately acquire when you know how to look at problems from a bird’s eye view and from different perspectives. Like a proper strategist, resolving a problem and managing change will not be as difficult as it would have originally been.

5. Work Ethic and Professionalism

In the workplace, being respected and being respectful is one of the important things to be learned. Because of the number of people you would be encountering and meeting, having proper manners is always a must. In line with being a good professional leader, there are important things to understand like handling resistance, dealing with difficult people, employees, or colleagues, and dealing with complaints. There is no good impression made other than being able to handling problems like a proper professional.

6. Why Soft Skills are Not Being Taught in Schools, Colleges, and Universities

Having learned the soft skills and each of their importance, the more important question to be asking is: Why are these soft skills not taught in schools? Though they may be taught in one way or another, these soft skills are not highlighted as important—or even more important—than academic subjects. This is because there is not enough research on how these skills can be assessed and measured. Despite the fact that there are so many ways in teaching students these skills, there is no actual test viable enough to be able to accurately measure someone’s soft skills—this is true even in the workplace.

One of the best ways in being able to measure this as of now is how successful individuals have become over the years. This is why teaching soft skills to the youth at a young age is important since these skills may and will manifest in their later years as working professional, an executive, an innovator, an entrepreneur, a business leader, or even a changemaker. Being someone in college, you will already have the personal call to improve on these skills; and with the technology today, there are so many ways you can learn exactly these skills you would need in the workplace.