Teaching Soft Skills Through Workplace Simulations in Classroom Settings

Lee Bruno

This technical guide describes how to teach soft skills in classroom settings. Soft skills, employability skills that speak to a worker’s interpersonal skills and character, rose to prominence in the early 1990s as a critical component of worker productivity with the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). Examples of soft skills are teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and effective use of resources. Another commonly relied-upon soft skill is effective communication—not just around job-related tasks, but also around balancing work-life realities (e.g., caring for a young child, having a disability, past involvement with the justice system) that may affect workers in their efforts to obtain and sustain competitive employment. The premise that soft skills are more important than even the technical and general education backgrounds of workers has been confirmed by not only multiple research projects, but also the daily experiences of teachers, counselors and job placement professionals working with youth and others who are entering the workforce for the first time. Today, the need to coach new hires about soft skills is an accepted fact among employers and those who prepare individuals for the workforce.