Technical Assistance Brief: Effective Integration of Technology and Instructor-Led Training to Promote Soft Skills Mastery

Excerpt from Technical Assistance Brief:

A 2006 America’s Promise Alliance report, entitled Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure Into Action, asserts that soft skills are as important to the success of our youth as the more traditional academic indicators. This finding is consistent with the results of a multitude of employer surveys conducted over the past two decades. While nearly all employers consider soft skills very important to on-the-job effectiveness, 75% of those polled for the 2006 Are They Ready for Work? report, however, lamented that the high school graduates representing their incoming entry-level workforce are deficient in the soft skills needed.

Some employers are willing to hire job applicants who are technically qualified and provide training on the soft skills that are lacking. Yet many anecdotal comments included in surveys and business articles indicate a preference for hiring job applicants that possess the desired soft skills and providing training to build technical competence instead. A job applicant’s ability to effectively demonstrate soft skills during an interview, therefore, can have a very significant influence on the outcome of his or her job search efforts.

Today’s typical soft skills curriculum can best be described as a series of workshops targeting key areas such as job interviewing, professionalism, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. While these instructor-led sessions may include some degree of interaction and role-play, they are, in all likelihood, primarily didactic (lecture-based) in nature. But in order for students to truly internalize the skills that soft skills instructors are attempting to impart, they need opportunities to practice them in a contextual setting. Fortunately, integrating technology into soft skills training can effectively support, reinforce, and augment classroom instruction in order to provide students with the hands-on experiences that they need.