Education is much different in 2016 than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago, in large part due to technology. Computers, the Internet, social media – you name it – have opened up a whole world to our young adults. The ability to find out information and communicate is at their fingertips. However, employers are starting to find that this ease and lack of human interaction does not transfer well to the workplace. While millennials definitely need to be tech-savvy, as parents and educators we can’t overlook the importance of teaching soft skills to our young adults before they embark on a career.
The Cambridge Business Dictionary defines soft skills as “people's abilities to communicate with each other and work well together.” It is a term you often see paired with “people skills” and “emotional intelligence.” Soft skills include interviewing, working on a team, communicating effectively, utilizing problem solving and critical thinking abilities, time management and organization, networking, and conveying motivation and a positive attitude. The 2015 State of St. Louis Workforce report indicates that these are some of the top basic skills in greatest demand by area employers – and those that they report are the most lacking. The top three greatest applicant shortcomings reported included poor work ethic, lack of critical thinking and problem solving, and lack of communication and interpersonal skills – not a specific hard-skill set like coding or accounting, and nothing that the Internet, social media or a text to a friend can fix. Employers in touch with our County’s Department of Workforce & Business Development have indicated similar challenges with applicants of all ages, including millennials.
What to do? One place millennials can turn to in building some of these skills is the Missouri Job Center of St. Charles County, operated by the Department of Workforce & Business Development. The Center offers several FREE workshops on a monthly basis that anyone, including the young adult in your life, is welcome to take to prepare them for the workforce:
- Networking to Assist in Your Job Search
- Career Exploration Inventory
- Resume Tips
- Job Search Strategies
- Interviewing Skills
- Mock Interviewing
- Basic computer workshops in Word and Excel
Their online calendar is updated monthly – all it takes is a call to register for a workshop.
The Center also has career consultants available. In addition, millennials who are eligible to take part in the Young Adult Training & Employment Program through the Missouri Job Center also receive personal mentoring in soft skills from one of their career counselors at their job site.
Technology is wonderful and essential, but soft skills are clearly important and worth teaching and learning at home and in school. The success of millennials, future generations – and our nation – depends on it.