How Important Are Soft Skills in Today's Workforce?

Nancy Anderson
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Soft skills represent a major part of hiring practices across many industries in the United States. A study from LiveCareer shows that among a dozen major occupational types, these skills are necessary for workers to achieve success on a regular basis. Discover how one company plans to help workers in today's workforce.

Online Learning

Foundry College represents a new way of learning soft skills that are needed to compete in a contemporary workplace. This online education platform plans to start operations in January 2019. It allows adults to obtain relevant training in skills that aren't necessarily taught in textbooks in traditional colleges, such as communication, problem-solving and critical thinking. The idea is for people to future-proof their careers.

Foundry College, headed by a former dean of Harvard University's Division of Social Science, plans to meld traditional classroom learning with online distance opportunities. The overall goal is to prepare workers for future employment by shoring up their skills through experiential, or real-world experiences, learning techniques.

Instructor-led and socially interactive online opportunities offer a cost-effective way for employees to learn new skills while maintaining their employment. These types of courses feature continuing education and development opportunities that companies can use for their own workforces as they seek to retain employees.

Why Soft Skills Matter

The premise is that middle-skill jobs, or jobs that are vital to a company's overall performance, are in high demand. Soft skills represent a way for employees to prove their worth to a company, even in the face of increased automation and computerization. There are some skills that machines simply cannot replace in humans, which is why more and more workers need skills that computers do not have.

For example, computer algorithms and programs can handle simple customer service requests. This is evident in FAQ pages, links to video tutorials or step-by-step guides that help someone with a common problem. However, soft skills come into play when a customer needs extra assistance with a complex problem. Software does not yet have a human touch that leads to critical thinking skills when there's a special case.

Companies also need humans to fix any bugs or tech glitches found in machinery and computer programs. That's where problem-solving and critical thinking come into play. People need to assess where problems come from with respect to automation and determine how to solve them before these problems become too much to handle.

Companies also need human managers with leadership skills to deploy teams. Managers must make value judgments based on emotional intelligence, knowing the skill set of each individual team member and understanding the team's overall place in the company hierarchy to accomplish certain goals. Computers do not have the leadership skills to accomplish this type of work.

Soft skills are the immeasurable skills that do not have a diploma or certificate to prove you know how to handle them. Companies seek people with these skills to ensure they have a highly adaptable talent pool in today's workforce, which is why you should obtain these skills ASAP.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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