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Why Soft Skills Are New Power Skills?

Soft skills can no longer be neglected by professionals looking to progress from current roles to aspirational roles.

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With technology transforming the way businesses function, companies across the world have been witnessing a talent crunch and widening skill gap. When screening candidates for high in-demand roles, the focus has been primarily on technical and hard-core skills such as Data Analytics, ML, AI and so on, while little importance had been given to their soft skills.  

Often overlooked by most people in the tech workforce, the value of soft skills has risen considerably. An increasing number of employers are now looking for candidates with soft skills along with technical knowledge. A report by Accenture titled "Fuelling India’s Skill Revolution", a vast majority of technical graduates do not possess the necessary soft skills.  

However, it is a mixture of soft skills and hard skills that form a formidable combination, creating a talented and highly skilled professional. So, why do soft skills matter? What value do they add? Why have soft skills become the new power skills that employers are after? 

Soft skills and their growing importance 

If classified under a broad category, soft skills are a combination of social skills, communication skills, and analytical skills that enable an individual to interact effectively and with others, both inside and out of the workplace. Skills such as analytical and creative thinking, out-of-the-box ideas, design and consumer-centric mindset, business acumen, and agility are some of the skills that are highly crucial in a professional setting. Incidentally, these skills are also set to be the most in-demand skills by the year 2022 going by the World Economic Forum’s 2018 report on Future of Jobs.  

Apart from the mentioned soft skills, employees must focus on adding skills such as written and oral communication, presentation, people management and problem-solving to their resume for quicker career progress. India being a country with a large millennial population, requires a holistically skilled workforce which means that they need to be trained in soft skills as well.  

Soft Skills = Power Skills 

Until recently, soft skills were merely seen as a bonus to the technical skills that employees possess. This led to basic skills such as communication and problem solving being vastly overlooked, leaving employees struggling to perform even basic tasks such as sending a clear message across to another person. In terms of career progress too, an employee who cannot put forth his ideas/message or present them clearly might find that his growth in the organization is slower as compared to one who possesses excellent communication and presentation skills. 

Displaying a lack of soft skills can even hamper your chances of landing a job. The Annual Employability Survey 2019 by Aspiring Minds found that 80 per cent of Indian engineers were not fit to be employed. A majority of them lacked the required soft skills, despite India being the third-largest higher education system in the world. That being said, on a global scale, an alarming 40 per cent of employers do not offer soft skills training to employees.  

One of the major reasons that soft skills have become the new power skills is that despite digitization and automation, there are still some ‘human’ skills that robots cannot perform. At senior levels, soft skills such as people management might potentially determine if you are a good leader, making it necessary to climb the ladder at your workplace. 

The future outlook 

With the world being at the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, soft skills are highly sought-after.  It comes as no surprise that skills such as creativity, people management, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence accounted for half of the Top 10 skills according to the Future of Jobs Report. To sum it up, soft skills give people the ability to navigate around the ever-changing business environment. 

The need of the hour 

While soft skills are crucial, simply enrolling yourself in any soft skill course might not prove to be productive. Self-introspection will help you determine the skills you’re strong at and which ones need to be developed. Since soft skills are unlike hard/technical skills, it is tough to quantify them. The requirement and training for soft skills also vary from person to person. However, continuous efforts to hone your skills and undergoing the necessary training can help you achieve holistic development and thrive in your respective career.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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