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Soft skills - what are they and why are they so important?

97% of UK employers believe that soft skills are highly important to their business (source: Backing Soft Skills campaign 2015). Soft skills are deemed to be vital to the UK economy and a modern-day business essential. Being successful in your future career is not just about the qualification you leave college with; an excellent set of soft skills will help you achieve a long and rewarding career. In contrast, ‘hard skills’ are those demonstrated by a qualification or specific professional experience.

So, what exactly are ‘soft skills’? Also, often referred to as ‘transferable’ skills, these types of skills are less specialised and are more to do with the personality and ability of a person. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Communication
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Self-motivation skills
  • Flexibility & time management

Soft or transferable skills relate to the attitude or intuition of an individual – they are frequently personality driven. It is really useful to be able to identify your own soft skills as you are likely to be required to display these during the process of applying for a job. A successful display of soft skills can be the difference between employing an adequate person for a job or the ideal applicant for a role. In the modern-day recruitment process, the required criteria is no longer limited to technical ability and industry knowledge; employers are always looking for potential leaders – roles which depend on successfully mastering an extensive range of soft skills.

It is easy to see why soft/transferable skills are so necessary for a customer/public/client facing role. However, soft skills are just as important when interacting with colleagues too. Soft skills are relevant to how you interact with others whereas hard skills are about you, as an individual.

Employers really value soft skills as these are a gauge to your effectiveness as a member of a team. A workplace which is productive and healthy is where great working relationships are built, ideas are exchanged and occasional conflicts are resolved amicably.

So, what are the main key soft skills you could do with mastering?

Self-motivation

Having the ability to work unmanaged, coupled with a positive attitude shows that you are committed and reliable. Act like this and you will instantly be seen to be an asset.

Responsible

Demonstrating a healthy level of humility and an ability to admit when you are at fault shows a responsible attitude and a willingness to learn and progress.

Communication

A good communicator knows how to adjust their tone and style according to their audience. Communication is the cornerstone of leadership.

Leadership

Primarily a collection of soft skills, leadership incorporates a positive attitude, effective communication and the ability to self-motivate and motivate others.

Teamwork

In a similarity to leadership, teamwork comprises of a selection of soft skills including good listening, intuition, as well as being a good responder to the needs of others.

Problem-solving

Those who can approach a problem with a cool and calm head can often reach a solution more quickly and effectively than those without. This skill also depends upon effective teamwork.

Flexibility

Another collaboration; willingness to gain new skills + open minded to take on new challenges + an upbeat attitude = flexibility.

Time management/handling pressure

Demanding deadlines come with most jobs these days! Employees who can effectively manage their time, organise themselves and prioritise tasks without panic or stress will become very valued staff.

And finally.

Conflict resolution

Soft skills are at the heart of potential leaders. If you can master the art of exerting influence, persuading change/solution amicably and establishing rapport when required – you will be a highly sought-after employee!

 

College gives you more than just a qualification, but many of these soft skills too! View diverse courses to see how we can develop your skills this academic year.

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