The labour market requires more soft skills

Investing in nurturing and consolidating the students’ soft skills seems like a secondary target, compared to the core business of a university. Data, on the other hand, show the opposite.

According to an Instructure study based on surveys of more than 750 managers at U.S. companies in various industries and quoted on the Business News Daily, the vast majority of employers workers with skills that are difficult or impossible to be taught. Most of the managers surveyed said attitude and work ethic are the most important considerations when choosing a new hire. 85 percent of those surveyed said that they are crucial factors for employee success, while 79 percent said a candidate’s prestigious schooling was the least important consideration.

Soft skills, then, tend to be more relevant than notions when choosing a new hire. But what soft skills are we referring to? A CNBC article gives a short but complete list of them.

Most important, communication skills, writing abilities, effective organisation, team work, ability to work under pressure and public speaking.

Across all the 25 million online job posting analysed by the job market research firm Burning Glass Technologies over the past year, an average of 1 in every 3 skills requested in a posting is a baseline skill. And in jobs generally associated with specific technical skills, such as in the health-care and information technology fields, 1 in 4 skills listed by employers are soft skills.

The interesting fact is, however, that we are not talking about necessarily (or exclusively) innate abilities. It is common to think that if we are not good communicators, for example, this is just a matter of fact and we can do nothing about it. Instead, most of these abilities can be learnt or trained with professional coaches, who can effectively work on improving where is needed and boosting the stronger areas.

This is already a reality in LUISS, where soft skills initiatives have been on for several years so far. These include developing practical abilities, volunteering, the Academic Gym to support the preparation of difficult exams, the AdLab to be “adopted” by a company even before graduation, problem-solving courses, self-empowerment seminaries and many others. We created a dynamic, varied and evolving campus, where change happens according to how the world changes. Here we invest our whole time and resources to give students the opportunity of getting ready to enter the labour market effectively, creatively and passionately. With all the skills they are willing to offer.

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