What are soft skills and what makes them so important?
Soft skills are often also referred to as ‘people skills’ or ‘emotional intelligence’. The term basically refers to a person’s ability to get along well with other people. These are in opposition to ‘hard skills’, which are skills that are easily quantifiable, such as data analysis experience or graphic design ability.
Do not be tempted to write soft skills off as inessential: they are extremely relevant when it comes to so many areas of life – relationships, interaction with other people, communication. These are skills which are important in school situations, in any work situation and also in general life. If you don’t have a grasp on these soft skills, you may find yourself falling behind in many areas, and unable to reach your full potential.
How are soft skills relevant to high school students?
- School life is full of conflict, often in your own friendship groups or in others. Knowing how to communicate calmly and kindly is essential, and will be of great help throughout school.
- Although you’re still at school, many students seek out part-time or casual jobs to earn a bit of money while they are still studying. If you want to find a job, developing on your soft skills is very important, as employers are nearly always looking for well-rounded workers and adept communicators.
- Learning soft skills will prepare you greatly for university, where you are treated like an adult capable of handling your own study load, and where you are also expected to act like an adult. The capacity to communicate well and carry out problem solving in tricky team situations (yes, there will probably be group assignments) will be of great help.
Which soft skills should students be taught?
It’s worth remembering that having soft skills is not a dichotomy: it’s not that you’re either skilled or you’re not. Most people have a better grasp on some soft skills than other areas, which means that pretty much everyone could improve at some areas.
Some important areas which many students could benefit to develop are:
- Adaptability and quickness to learn – are you able to learn as you go? This goes beyond traditional tests of intelligence or performance on examinations.
- Leadership ability – this is not just a question of whether you’ve been the School Captain, but can you take on a leadership role in difficult situations? Do you know how to step up in a tricky situation and begin to solve an issue?
- Original thinking – it’s all very well if you can score 100% on a test, but are you able to exhibit lateral or creative thinking? This is an area where many students struggle, in their quest to find the ‘right’ answer.
- Patience – this skill is key in helping you be able to work well alongside other people.
- Critical thinking – do you accept everything you learn, or are you able to look at things through a critical lens?
If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: 3 Facts You Should Know About Your ATAR, Tips for Supporting Your Child in Year 11 and 12! and Will anyone care about your ATAR in a year?
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