Tips for Teaching the Importance of Soft Skills Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on June 2nd, 2015

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Tips for Teaching the Importance of Soft Skills

Soft Skills | Career and Technical Education | Career Readiness

Have you been giving fair and deliberate attention to the importance of soft skills in your courses? Do you buy in to the importance of soft skills?

They're crucial for any individual's professional development. The sooner someone can learn soft skills, the better they'll adapt to a job, career, and workplace. 

But that's only the beginning. Soft skills have thousands of applications in the workplace, and they're just as useful as "hard" skills. 

Here's why.

The Importance of Soft Skills

It seems that teaching soft skills has never been so important as it is right now. And there is good reason for that.

Childhood and young adulthood isn't the same experience it was in the past. The lifestyle and environment that children and students experience today is far different from those in the 1990s, 1980s, and so on.

Specifically, there's a much looser interpretation of soft skills and career readiness skills in today's society as businesses move toward a more casual mindset and dress code.

But even with those more "relaxed" feels, it's never been more important for students to be ready for the workplace. 

The popular website mindtools.com says this about the importance of soft skills:

importance of soft skills

I appreciate the UK's National Career Service take on soft skills:

importance of soft skills

They key takeaway here is that that soft skills are transferable. 

So even as someone's career evolves (as so many do), your soft skills are always relevant. And if taught well, these skills will always stay with you. 

In general, the most important soft skills include:

  • Communication skills
  • Making decisions
  • Self motivation
  • Leadership skills
  • Team working skills
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management

If these sound familiar, it's because many of them are also 21st Century skills. This is no coincidence — many soft skills are timeless. They were important in the 1920s, and they're still important today. 

But as technology changes, the importance of these soft skills may change. 

For example, communication skills have become significantly more important over the past several years as email has become more popular in the workplace. 

Forty years ago, your primary means of communication were face-to-face or telephone, which meant you always heard someone's tone of voice

But with email, tone isn't there. That makes it harder for a recipient to understand a writer's intent, which then leads to miscommunications that might not have happened in a vocal conversation. 

As a result, the concept of "communication skills" has changed significantly. Today, it has a much firmer emphasis on email, text messaging, and instant messenger clients. 

That's just one example of how soft skills (and their importance) change over time. The same is true for others, and we'll almost certainly see more changes in the future. 

So with all of that in mind, how on Earth can you teach soft skills?

Covering Soft Skills with CTE Curriculum

You can teach most soft skills in just about any subject, but it's important to spend some focused time exploring soft skills in-depth.

A digital curriculum for career and technical education (CTE) works surprisingly well for doing this. This style of curriculum is designed to be interactive and engaging, which makes it ideal for 21st Century students in any age group. 

Besides, where would be better to teach soft skills than right along side the technical and clinical skills that so many jobs require?

This concept is catching on like wildfire. Several states are creating standards for their schools to teach soft skills among other career readiness opportunities

They're starting earlier and earlier, too. 

For example, Ohio is tackling soft skills as part of the state's Strand 1 Business Operations/21st Century Skills curriculum standards.

Their skills trickle down all the way to middle school so that students know exactly how they can jumpstart (and keep) the careers of their dreams. 

(Here's how Ohio prepares students with soft skills.)

In a nutshell, you can teach soft skills to students just like hard skills, and even in the same courses. 

You have have to finesse your curriculum a little — or get a digital curriculum to make it easier — but the results will speak for themselves. 

Best of all, your students will leave your classroom with a distinct edge over other students their age who didn't learn about soft skills yet. 

That can make all the difference in a job interview, and that could be all a student needs to land their first job and advance their careers. 

So you know why soft skills are important and how to work them into your class. 

But how do you teach them, specifically?

Teaching Soft Skills

Where can you find some solid ideas for soft skills lessons and activities?

The US Department of Labor offers a great program entitled "Soft Skills to Pay the Bills."

It covers these important soft skills:

  • Communication
  • Enthusiasm and attitude
  • Teamwork
  • Networking
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Professionalism

Another fabulous resource? Teachers Pay Teachers is a great resource if you have a little bit of time to do some digging. Just type in “soft skills” on the site, and you’ll find all sorts of options for projects and activities. You can further narrow down your results by age group.

Last, Applied Educational Systems has its own soft skills lessons that you can check out for yourself. They're free to download, and they're just one part of the digital curriculum CareerCenter21. 

If you want to teach everything from one convenient location, CareerCenter21 is your solution.

It also helps that it comes with automatic grading, student progress tracking, and customization options that let you make your courses unique to you. 

How to Improve Soft Skills

importance of soft skillsWant to take soft skills lesson plans to the next level?

Try an engaging, age-appropriate system of curriculum, PowerPoint presentations, study guides, lesson plans and activities!

CareerCenter21 focuses on the importance of soft skills, plus a whole bunch more to really round out your career readiness curriculum.

CareerCenter21 Is Your Soft Skills Teaching Solution

Are you ready to teach soft skills in your classroom? 

CareerCenter21 is the ideal way to help your students learn both in and out of the classroom. 

Its online-only capabilities place it on the cutting edge of teaching technology, and students can use it from any Internet-connected device. 

Plus, it helps you organize your own courses for the best possible results. 

Do you want to take your soft skills curriculum to the next level? 

Check out CareerCenter21 today!

Check Out CareerCenter21

 

About Sarah Layton

Sarah has been with AES since 1998, first serving as a curriculum developer, and now as a customer support analyst and content creator. She is committed to helping instructors gain experience and confidence using our solutions and to providing excellent customer care.