Soft Skills – What’s All the Fuss About?

STEERus Soft Skills Academy

by Loralyn

Soft skills, “shmoft skills.” Meh. Most people that we talk to don’t even know what they are. Not to mention a good chunk of the population who doesn’t believe that you can teach them. That cohort subscribes to the “you-either-have-them-or-you-don’t” philosophy.

Either way, it’s difficult to change someone’s opinion about something. Which, in of itself, opens the whole can of worms around growth mindset. People are either open to new ideas and learning new things – or they’re not. The latter are labeled as having a “fixed mindset.” Other euphemisms include words like, “stubborn, obstinate, opinionated, brick wall” and so on.

For the uninitiated, it’s very much a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” There’s a lot of bravado and confidence in youth. As a teenager, you feel invincible. Unstoppable. Admittedly, in this era of social media and COVID, self-confidence has taken a hit. Teens are conditioned to believe that everything that they see on social media is real. However, much of what’s on there represents a filtered, curated, micro-slice of people’s lives.

Soft Skills: Debunking the Myths

Back to the soft skills. There’s a ton of debate over what they should be called. Simon Sinek is a fan of the term, “human skills,” and is on crusade to obliterate the use of “soft skills” from the digital landscape since these skills are necessary, and anything but “soft.” But most people in the US refer to them as soft skills. In Europe, the terms “human skills” and “people skills” tend to be more popular than “soft skills” according to Google Trends. Let the debate rage on about soft skills versus essential skills versus life skills versus any other incarnation. None of that matters because the one thing not up for any discussion is how important those skills are.

Gary Vee, who is revered as a marketing guru, is now campaigning for greater attention and investment in soft skills since “anyone can learn the hard skills.” He’s commented on observations that he’s made in his younger staff and noticed the deficit of critical thinking and other soft skills. Some studies suggest that women are more adept at soft skills than their male counterparts, which is part of the origin behind the term. If you’re a celebrity junkie, this list, which includes Oprah, Taylor Swift, and others, tilts heavily towards those who identify as female – there are only a couple of men named – which reinforces the suggestion that women have better soft skills.

But we don’t want to get into a gender debate here. What’s key to focus on is that people can learn soft skills. It all starts with awareness and a growth mindset. If you don’t think you need to learn anything, then you’re not going to gain much from any training, no matter how good it is or what form it’s in.

The Importance of Soft Skills in Today’s World

Problem solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity are the soft skills employers are keenly focused on in 2021 according to a Linkedin report. These skills are likely coveted now given the complexity of doing business today. The war on talent, the anti-work “laying flat” movement, increasing social anxiety and mental health struggles, the limitations on supply chain, burgeoning costs for everything, and a multitude of other factors are combining to underscore the need for businesses – and employees of those businesses – to think and do differently.

How do you do more with less? What if X happens, then what? Scenario planning is anchored in problem solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity. In a world where change is the only constant and the mantra to “expect the unexpected” is recited in every Board room, businesses are dialed into the need for leadership and soft skills.

Students, however, are not dialed in. Again, as is the case for just about everything, there is a bell curve: some people are outliers at either end of the curve whereas the vast majority is somewhere in the middle. That middle is represented by the average college or university student. Only a small number of students (the outliers) are going on Linkedin to gather information about the person scheduled to interview them and to generate an informed series of interview questions and answers for the interviewer. Even fewer are looking up the company on GlassDoor, CrunchBase, and other sites to generate an informed series of questions for the interviewer. And, on the other side of the bell, the other group of outliers isn’t showing up for the interview at all: about one in four has moved ghosting from the dating world to the work world.

That middle majority doesn’t know that they’re supposed to do interview preparation and research the standard interview questions that every uninspired hiring manager or HR person asks. Those students don’t know that they must show up on time (actually, they need to arrive early). Nor do they know what to wear. And no, club wear with platform heels and bandeau dresses shouldn’t be the first choice.

So that’s where we come in. There are a lot of questions that teens can’t ask their parents when it comes to job search and others. Sure, there’s that embarrassment and weird factor of asking parents stuff, but it’s mostly that teens don’t know what they don’t know. Some may choose to go on Reddit to get advice and they’ll follow whichever suggestion has been upvoted the highest. Others may seek out YouTube videos and watch a few seconds of whichever video has the most views.

But those aren’t curated educational materials. Has a certified coach or expert in the field prepared the answer? Maybe. Maybe not.

The Role of STEERus in Educating and Empowering Learners

Enter STEERus. Our content is curated, it can be customized to meet learners’ gaps in soft skills, and it has been designed to maximize learning and retention. Did we mention that it’s FREE to students, educators, and underserved communities worldwide? That’s our commitment to fostering equity in education. If you (or if you want your young adult) to develop better leadership skills, interview skills, and to strong interpersonal skills, then it’s time to enroll in our Soft Skills Academy.

ENROLL for FREE ????

We’re very proud that New Jersey Governor Murphy has named STEERus a Top 10 Innovator in New Jersey plus Collision Conf has recognized us as one of the Top 50 Impact Startups in the world.

Our Soft Skills Academy is not just an app – it’s a movement to help students be more successful transitioning from school to work life.

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