The challenge with measuring soft skills is that personalities cannot be put into neat boxes, as Srivastava and Oliver (1999), highlighted for us in their work on the “Big Five”. Credentialing Soft Skills is a new frontier that has not yet been thoroughly mastered, due to the nature of Soft Skills being behaviour based and not analytical. Some of the organizations that use Soft Skills Assessments would be: The States Department of Defense uses a personality test called the (TAPAS).4 Other organizations like DeakinCo5; SHL6; Mayer- Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) presented by MHS7 all present tests measuring some form of soft skills and emotional intelligence.
However, there are challenges to testing softs skills. Connelly (et al. 2010) suggest peer review as a much safer way of assessing soft skills, as it showed ratings by others were more accurate, less biased, and more predictive of future outcomes.
Soft Skills and ROI?
In their article “Derive Hard Numbers from Soft Skills” and based on their research Phillips (et al. 2015)8, firmly believe that companies that invest in Soft Skills will see the results regarding their Return on Investment (ROI). They say: “Soft skills create agile organizations, develop innovative companies, make the best places to work, and build the most admired companies. Soft skills bring out the best in people as their behaviours and competencies are shaped to fit the strategy of the organisation, the desired work climate, and the ever-changing, unpredictable landscape.
Soft Skills in Education
Despite the increase in technology their remains considerable gaps in students learning abilities especially when it comes to critical skills needed for Tertiary education like, focus; self-regulated learning; critical thinking and problem-solving.
A plea to include non-cognitive in education could be seen in a 2012 report by the National Research Council entitled “Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century”. In this report, they highlight the fact that: “Business and political leaders are increasingly asking schools to develop skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management often referred to as “21st-century skills.” (Ed, Hilton and Pellengrino 2012).
Soft Skills education has also been the theme of work by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)9, an organization with a mission “to establish social and emotional learning as an essential part of education”. CASEL believe that the questions students these days are asking are not information based (anything that can be Googled). The questions they are asking are: “Who am I? How do I work with you? How do we build a team”?
It is essential that if we are leaders in any way shape or form that we consider the significant importance of Soft Skills development. It is never too late to develop yourself and your team. Hard skills can only take you so far; soft skills will take you further!