In My Opinion: No soft skills; all are essential today21 August 2017
The following op-ed by CFES President and CEO Rick Dalton appeared in the Plattsburgh Press Republican
Tomorrow’s jobs call for skills not taught in textbooks.
CFES helps tomorrow’s job-seekers build them.
Recently, Dr. Allen Morrison of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University delivered some startling information to a group of corporate and educational leaders at a conference sponsored by the GE Foundation.
As knowledge and information become commodities, he said, they’re taking a back seat in the job market to applicants’ networking ability and agility in developing new skills.
Professor Joseph Fuller of the Harvard Business School, an authority on America’s competitiveness, offered the same group a similar message: More than anything else, he said, businesses want employees who possess workforce readiness skills, such as the ability to work together and persevere.
Over the last decade at CFES, we’ve recognized the foundational importance of these sort of competencies.
And while many call these skills “soft” or “non-cognitive,” CFES decided three years ago to stop using those terms.
By calling them that, we diminish their value and give them second-class status at a time when these traits have more value than ever before. We need to call them the essential skills.
CFES lists six essential skills: grit, teamwork, leadership, agility, networking and goal setting.
The list is organic. Essential skills are ones that prepare our young people to succeed in a world of disruptive change — a world like the one in which we’re living today.
CFES includes the Essential Skills as one of our three core practices, alongside mentoring and pathways to college and career.
By exposing our grade 6-12 students to role models and mentors, engaging them in service activities and using other strategies, we’ve helped nearly 100,000 underserved youth become college and career ready.
Our gains and approach are detailed in a book published by Routledge in 2016, "A Practitioner’s Guide to Helping Students Become College & Career Ready," which I co-wrote with a professor from the University of Michigan.
Thunderbird’s Morrison warns that the workforce of tomorrow won’t be the one we want and need unless we take action now.
Helping students master the essential skills is a critical component of building that workforce, and CFES is leading the way in developing the tools to achieve that.
Rick Dalton is president and CEO of CFES, which is based in Essex.