Soft skills are taking the spotlight in workplace learning.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) have predicted a significant rise in demand for soft skills by 2020. This means that soft skills such as problem-solving, cognitive abilities and social skills will be sought after, by up to a staggering 36% more.
This anticipated growth in skills demand can be linked to several factors, including new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence slowly taking over more technical roles, and the quickening pace of organisational change leading to a greater need for resilience and the ability to lead during times of uncertainty.
With less than two years to go, it’s likely you are already starting to notice a shift in demand for soft skills training in your organisation. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, training for soft skills is already the #1 priority for 2018.
And we think it’s about time.
Organisations able to perform in areas such as communication, collaboration and emotional intelligence are likely to experience two times the growth, profitability and success compared with organisations lacking in those areas.
Similarly, soft skills are what separate average performers from high performers. They are crucial for employees, managers, supervisors and leaders looking to improve performance and get to the next level in their careers.
Stanford Research Institute reported that 75% of long term job success depends upon soft skills mastery and only 25% on technical skills.
So, the fact that businesses are now starting to prioritise the soft skills development of their people, is a move in the right direction.
The soft skills that are REALLY in demand
Soft skills is sometimes used as a broad-brush in workplace learning - they combine people skills, social traits, attitudes and much more. It can be a bit overwhelming knowing and understanding which soft skills will benefit the business most, so I’ve dug a little deeper and found out the two soft skills businesses are most eager to get behind and why.
According to LinkedIn, businesses are currently rating leadership as the #1 soft skill for employees to develop via an L&D programme. This doesn’t come as a surprise when you consider how quickly workplace leadership is changing.
Soon, the millennial generation will be the largest global working demographic, and many think their entrance into the workplace has caused a switch from authoritarian to inclusive leadership, calling for a change in how we approach leadership development.
In the last few years there’s also been a dramatic shift in what society expects from business leaders. Cambridge’s recent report ‘Rewiring leadership’ demonstrates how, in order to create a sustainable and successful future, businesses need to prioritise authentic, diverse and personal leadership development.
The nature of business leadership is starting to look very different, so it makes sense that businesses are keen to give their leaders the tools and skills they need to be successful.
Businesses rated communication as the second most important soft skill for employees to develop via an L&D programme.
Communication – good or bad – has a massive impact on the overall performance of a business. A recent study showed that 70% of the workforce is unengaged, and a lack of internal communications is a key reason why. Communication also has a massive impact on productivity - teams with good communication skills are on average 20-25% more productive.
And there might be another reason why communication skills have crept up to the #2 most important soft skill for businesses to develop.
Younger generations who have grown up with technology have had less opportunities to develop core soft skills such as communication or the ability to manage conflict, as they can develop a habit of prioritising digital communication and engagement above face-to-face interaction.
This means that a large part of the workforce has underdeveloped communications skills compared with previous generations. So, it’s no wonder businesses are prioritising developing the communication skills of their people!
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Now really is a great time for us in learning to address the soft skills gaps of our learners. Not only will this make sure our organisations are prepared to meet the change in skills demand, it will also future-proof businesses by creating a high performing workforce.
If you want to find out more, or if you aren't sure where to begin you might want to download out expert whitepaper Preparing for the rise of the soft skill.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
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