If you started thinking about your future and your career, you should bear in mind that job market is constantly changing and you are growing up in a world that every day becomes more technological, where innovation relies on cutting-edge inventions. For generation Z and Alpha people, it is essential to understand how to become more competitive and what makes individual “employable”. If technology, robots, machines make practical tasks easier, they will never be able to replace the human touch, thus the option for upcoming generation is to focus on soft skills. These skills are groups of intrinsic intangible attributes, related to psychological and behavioural sides of human being, that can be either part of someone’s nature or trigged and boosted by external factors, such as life experiences.
So, if you want to compete and succeed in your career, you better be ready to work on yourself and your intrinsic resources.
Here, we explain our tips and tricks to recognise the pivotal soft skills:
- Self-awareness is described by scientists as the ability to focus on yourself and your life goals, taking into account your behaviour and daily interaction with environment and co-workers. If you are self-aware, you are capable of monitoring your reactions and emotions in a particular situation, you can also answer to questions like what makes you feel happy, how you deal with people around you and new opportunities;
- Motivation can be explained as an intrinsic “driven force” trigged by an inner energy in order to achieve goals, needs or uphold value. Since human instinct is based on setting targets and achieving purposes, this energy becomes stronger when fed by tangible rewards (extrinsic motivation) or intangible rewards (intrinsic motivation);
- Dependability is a brand-new soft skill that employees should demonstrate to their employers in workplace. Built on trust, it is the ability of managing every kind of tasks, in a responsive way, completely independent by taking initiative and organise the urgency of deadlines, so the employers can securely rely on their teams;
- Time management is the attitude of being organised in your daily work routine. You consciously know how and where spend your energy and resources, in order to increase productivity without wasting time;
- Empathy might sound an unusual requirement but it has been taken for granted for many years. In the past, the economic value was based on machinelike performances and technological tools replaced human craftmanship in practical tasks. Nowadays, the focus is back on human attributes and empathy has become a necessary weapon. When acting empathetic, you take care of weaker entities like environment or vulnerable people, you can sharpen your sensitive side by being more aware of other people’s feelings and reactions and you are able of putting yourself in somebody’s shoes. So, empathy is beneficial for both your personal and professional life;
- Flexibility should ring you a bell, since this word has been repeatedly used in the last year. Different from the term “blend in”, that describes the attitude of adapting to situations, by adopting different behaviours; flexibility is instead the ability to flex your resources while being yourself, so nothing can really challenge you and you easily engage new experiences;
- Desire to learn is the most challenging skill to build in your personality. Indeed, employers have a keen eye for employees who show a thirst of knowledge or are willing to learn new competences on their own initiative;
- Critical thinking associates the ability of thinking both critically and analytically, by spotting the most powerful and beautiful ideas. There are some steps that can lead you to improve your brainwave, like understanding and creating links between ideas, determining pro and cons, identifying errors or approaching problems in a rational way and reflecting on justifications and beliefs;
- Creativity, together with critical thinking, shows your unique value as employee in workplace. It is a potential that shows imagination and invention and helps you think out of the box. However some people were born creative, creativity can be also boosted during educational and training path, when students discover their hidden talents;
- Dealing with stress is the crux of the matter in soft skills. Rooted in the psycho-pedagogical system, it can affect both educational and work environment. Indeed, for many students, stress occurred not only during oral and written exams, but also in everyday life: the feeling of being unable to support their opinion in class, the fear of being judged by classmates for making mistakes, the lack of self-esteem or shyness do not let students to be free while performing a task. Thus, a duty for educators is teaching students how to cope with stress from their primary challenges;
- Effective communication and performative art are key allies in coping with lack of self-esteem, shyness and, consequently, stress. Even though performing arts and any other practical disciplines are not yet considered essential like maths or writing, the performer Marina Abramovich spent her whole career highlighting advantages of these disciplines in both private and professional people’s life: performing arts teach, for example, how to strongly express your opinion, using the right tone and lexicon, it helps to work on your body languages and build confident manners in every situation;
- Team work has become necessary in this world. Although everyone is virtually connected with anyone, being able to build strong face to face relationships is much harder. The ability to work confidently in a team, even with people from different backgrounds and work goals, is a valuable weapon to show;
- Diversity reminds us that everyone can contribute in workplace, because everyone is different and unique, in gender, race and beliefs, with a unique value. Diversity and inclusion give a company access to a greater range of talents and make a team more successful and profitable;
- Culture awareness is more than a skill, it is a feeling. Innovations has bought people together virtually and physically and globalisation gives the chance to easily travel all around the world. Thanks to the life learning programme Erasmus, young people and school staff can live an everlasting experience while meeting new people from different culture, in different European cities. It has been proved that taking part in Erasmus experiences can increase your chance to boost your future career.
Thanks to the value that soft skills hold in students’ growth, the new Erasmus + “Playing 4 Soft Skills” project targets current VET students (aged 14-19) and teachers working within VET programmes across the European Union and it aims to improve students’ ability to recognize and develop relevant transversal skills by introducing non-formal education practices, both through games and digital tools, in the context of education and vocational training.
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Play for soft skill: what are soft skills and how they can be useful for your future