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"A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.”
Madonna

Why are soft skills so important?

According to a recent article in The Economic Times, out of three lakh MBA graduates every year, only 10 per cent are employable.

A recent report by Business Worldestimates the number of students graduating each year to be around 50 lakh of which only 25 per cent of which are deemed to be employable.

This means that despite having job opportunities, there are several graduates who aren't fit to be hired in the companies.

An obvious question here is -- Why aren't these graduates employable?

Do they not have the required technical or domain knowledge?

When you talk to these students, you end up feeling sorry for the next generation.

While they have all the technical knowledge required to do a job, often they do not have the necessary motivation for the same.

They know what to do, but when it comes to communicating to others on what needs to be done, they fail miserably.

At a time when the world is more connected than ever before, it is difficult for them to make more than two coherent, structured sentences.

In fact, in a survey conducted by Global Management Consultancy, Hay Group, in India, 74 percent (of the surveyed group of business leaders and HR professionals) said that they have hired graduates who lack the necessary people skills due to a lack of choice.

71 percent believe that less than a quarter of their graduates have the 'people skills' they need.

80 percent of business and HR directors say that graduates who do not develop 'people skills' create toxic work environments.

Ruth Malloy, global managing director-leadership and talent, Hay Group said in the report, "Currently we are seeing an awkward generation joining companies across the globe. They've acquired the technical skills and qualifications to secure work but not the soft skills they need to succeed, once they are over the threshold. They find it difficult to fit in, struggle to build relationships, don't deal effectively with stress or get their ideas across in the right way. This is a pronounced problem in the world's key markets."

Which brings us to the crux of the matter -- What are soft skills?

Soft skills refer to the cluster of personal traits or qualities such as communication, personal habits, empathy, presentation skills etc which define how we interact with others.

Often, these qualities are intangible and are acquired through years of concentrated effort.

In a typical corporate example, while technical skills are required to receive an interview call, soft skills help convert the call into a job offer and also for further career growth.

Technical skills are job specific where as soft skills are applicable across roles, domains and careers.

To be precise, soft skills can also be called 'people skills' -- the personal attributes that enhance an individual's interaction, job performance and career prospects.

Some examples for the same could be:
• Communication skills
• Anger management
• Team skills
• E-mail etiquette
• Negotiation skills
• Behavioral traits such as time management, stress management etc.

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