Soft skills in schools is hitting the headlines again. Apparently soft skills – such as resilience, leadership and confidence are more important for school leavers than achieving top exam results, according to Hilary French , who is the president of the Girls’ Schools Association. Like me, she criticises the label ‘soft skills’ which almost trivialises essential interpersonal skills and personal qualities that are essential to succeed. Qualities such as integrity, empathy and risk-taking are invaluable skills to acquire.
Ms French said that employers are telling her (and the GSA) that ‘soft skills’ are more important than examination results.
So why aren’t these skills featured more readily in the curriculum? Well they are in subjects like PSHE (personal, social and health education), although the effectiveness is largely down to the teaching and delivery of these lessons. Also, the government is still focused on examination results, and with the best will in the world, schools’ resources will focus on improving exam results to fulfil their own targets. Students (and schools) who have pupils scoring A* grades are celebrated, yet those who develop more rounded skills in their pupils – including soft skills are neither measurable nor valued. So how could we change this?
Mentoring a young person. I mentor two university students, and we focus largely on the ‘soft skills’ for getting ahead.
Volunteering to talk in schools. Careers teachers often organise Career days where local business people meet students.
Use these opportunities to emphasise the importance of developing soft skills
Campaign via business voices like the FSB etc to put more emphasis on soft skills.
Emphasise as part of your personal or company brand that soft skills and delivering excellent customer care are part of your values.