When it comes to getting started on a new career path, technical skills are definitely important. You can’t walk into a hospital and expect to become a surgical technologist if you don’t have the right training. To be a success in the workplace, however, there’s another set of skills which matters almost as much: the so-called “soft” skills.
Soft skills are important professional skills that can make all the difference when it comes to advancing in your career field of choice. That’s because these skills—such as managing conflict, problem solving, and communicating clearly—all contribute to creating positive workplace relationships. At Altierus Career College, we offer our students specific training in soft skills to ensure they arrive at a job interview ready to show employers they are career ready.
In this article, we look at why soft skills are valued and discuss the key skills we teach in all our diploma and degree programs.
Employers Care About Soft Skills
A 2019 survey from Morning Consult, on behalf of education technology company, Cengage found that the skills employers value most in new hires included:
- Listening skills – 74%
- Attention to detail – 70%
- Effective communication – 69%
- Critical thinking – 67%
- Interpersonal skills – 65%[i]
Only 50% of employers who responded to the survey said they valued technical skills highly.
Soft Skills Training May Boost Performance and Productivity
Employers value soft skills for a reason. Evidence from a 2017 study conducted by a team from the University of Michigan, Harvard University and Boston College suggests that workers with specific training in soft skills may be more productive than those who don’t have the specific training.
This study randomly selected garment workers from across five factories to receive soft skills training in areas including time management, problem solving, and communication. At the end of the study, the workers who completed the training increased their productivity by 12% compared to workers who didn’t receive the training. They were also more likely to have kept their jobs.[ii]
Soft Skills That Matter Most
At Altierus Career College, we introduce our students to the following soft skills through our Professional Skills course:
- Time management
- Problem solving
- Emotional intelligence
As they progress through the modules in our Professional Skills course, students can earn competency badges to display on their LinkedIn profiles—a signal to employers that they’ve mastered those soft skills.
Oral communication skills include listening skills as well as speaking. It’s important to understand what others need from you, whether you’re a pharmacy technician working with a patient or an apprentice electrical technician working on a job site. It’s also important to be able to articulate how you’ll meet client or patient requests and be able to explain what else you might need in order to meet their expectations.
Many of the roles our students train for also require record keeping, so we emphasize clear written communication, too.
Time management helps you stay on top of your day. By learning strategies for breaking down your schedule into tasks, ways to avoid procrastination, and more, you become the kind of worker who gets things done on time.
Problem solving isn’t just about thinking up a brilliant solution to an issue. It’s about identifying realistic options based on the resources you have, then systematically testing each of those options until you find the one which solves the problem best. We help our students develop a logical approach to workplace problems so they can always help colleagues or customers find workable solutions.
Emotional intelligence (sometimes also called emotional quotient, or EQ) is about developing self-awareness and social awareness so that you can control your emotional response to a situation. Or, put more concisely, “Emotional intelligence is about making your emotions work for you, not against you.”[iii]
Developing EQ skills helps people handle stressful situations, give constructive critical feedback, and turn conflict into productive encounters by empathizing with others.
Teamwork includes elements of all the above soft skills and applies them to work groups. By understanding how others depend on you, you understand how and when to complete your work. Through communication and skillful use of EQ, you can head off conflicts, offer support, and take in feedback without taking it personally.
Learn the Skills Employers Value
Start training for a new career path with a college that offers high-quality training for in-demand career fields—and the soft skills employers value. Explore the programs at Altierus Career College today!