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Soft skills for 21st century jobs


The International Labor Organization understands that a skills gap exists, and it is "a difference between the skills an employee should have to fulfill a role successfully and the skills an employee or successful candidate has."

This phenomenon affects both the individual employee or jobseeker and the enterprises across the globe. Allegedly in the United States, "92 percent of executives think that their employees aren't skilled enough to do their jobs" (Adecco survey). As the war for talent rages, "less than a third of companies believe they have the talent necessary for digital transformation in their organizations." A LinkedIn study shows that "59 percent of hiring managers have problems finding and hiring employees with soft skills."

21st century soft skills

In the 1980s, several world leaders in business, education, and government met and issued a series of reports identifying key skills and strategies to develop students' and workers' skills for jobs in the changing workplace. They called this set of skills the 21st century skills. Four decades later, the Philippines still needs to realign its educational and training systems toward these all-important skills set.

Here are some of the so-called soft skills, according to experts. I clustered them under the more dominant and critical skills.

– Critical Thinking. Soft skills like processing of information, problem-solving and decision-making are distinctly separate soft skills, but they are closely related to critical thinking. 1) Critical thinking is a systematic process of actively conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing and processing information gathered or generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communicating. It is about making judgments that are logical and well-thought-out. A critical thinker does not simply accept all arguments and conclusions without questioning them. 2) Problem-solving involves analyzing a situation, identifying issues and causes, gathering facts and crafting alternative solutions. 3) Decision-making is about choosing a solution based on gathered data, facts, and using one's sound judgment.

– Communication. My simplest definition of communication is creating understanding. It is the responsibility of both the sender and receiver to understand the message. Listening is the better part of communication that is most observed in breach. Comprehension is about interpreting and understanding what one has read or heard. It involves decoding the message, making a connection between the message read or heard and what one already knows, and using his stock knowledge to think deeply about the context of the message. Speaking is that part of communication that everybody wants to do, except public speaking. Business writing, technical writing, and other forms of art require certain skills, including organizing the written work and the use of correct grammar.

Collaboration. This soft skill is about the interpersonal competency that people leverage to collectively solve a problem, reach a decision, or achieve a common goal. This is also about being able to lead or work in teams, or commonly called social skills as this involves the ability to deal with other people, teams, and networks. Collaboration enables one to harness synergy with others, share the responsibility and the load, and create a community that can form part of one's support system.

– Creativity. Creativity and innovation usually go together. Creativity is the tendency, or skill, or penchant to generate or recognize "ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems" or in dealing with others. Innovation is the end product of creativity — the successful implementation of creative ideas. Both creativity and innovation are important. Creativity leads to innovation, and innovation creates value that usually benefits others, or that customers are willing to pay for.

and employees who demonstrate they have a good combination of hard and soft skills often see a greater demand for their services."


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