A new study conducted by Oxford University Press surveyed 1000 recent graduates and found that 88 per cent of them believed “soft skills” were necessary to their future career success.
Even as these graduates prepare to enter an increasingly automated workforce, a substantial 78 per cent said such “soft skills will give them an advantage” in the workplace. Indeed, upskilling in soft skills in the workplace is predicted to be a new trend, with more than one third (38 per cent) believing that upskilling in this area will be an ongoing practice throughout their professional lives.
But what, exactly, are “soft skills”, and have they always been viewed as being critical in the labour market? To discuss the importance of “soft skills” both now and in the future, Education Review spoke to Dr Alexia Maddox of Deakin University, one of the authors of the study.
Maddox emphasised that "soft skills" compliment technical skills, and encompass how "we think, communicate, cooperate and collaborate and innovate". Within the domain of innovation are the "soft skills" of complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity - skills the students nominated as being the most important to their careers.
Indeed, such is their importance of these skills that Maddox called them "the glue that make our professional lives work”. While the Deakin University lecturer noted that it is within the humanities and social sciences that these skills are traditionally acquired, the important thing is that they are taught to students, regardless of the discipline.
In this podcast, Maddox also touches on some ways in which these critical "soft skills" can be taught.