February 26, 2018

Why the World Needs ‘Real Skills’ Not ‘Soft Skills’

Here at Role Models, we’ve begun to hate the phrase ‘soft skills’. It’s meaningless and way too fluffy. By soft skills, people usually mean all aspects of character education. So, communication, teamwork, creativity and critical thinking. The list is endless.

Our company exists because we want to help children fly by giving them the skills they need to grow, develop and thrive in a changing world. We are all for the debate around how important these skills are. It’s just the word ‘soft’ that gets in the way. For us, they are the ‘real skills’ of 21st century learning and if you are a parent today, you have to urgently help your children develop them.

Why?

Well, for starters, the world is changing at break-neck speed. As the leading futurist John Mahaffie points out, children’s lives and working lives in the coming decades will be dominated by regular waves of change, so adaptability is a real skill that’s needed. He also argues that more and more work will involve international connections, so developing a global outlook very early in life is key. Work will also become interdisciplinary, so the ability to collaborate and work with others will be at a premium in the workplace. Finally, he argues that far more jobs will involve working intimately with digital machines and intelligent systems, so creative problem solving will be a key 21st century skill.

‘Real skills’

The ‘real skills’ to be learned, therefore, aren’t the Maths, English, Latin and Physics that dominate the curriculum these days, but the real skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative problem solving. Don’t get me wrong, academic subjects do matter, but the fact that ‘real skills’ aren’t given equal weight in a child’s development means that millions of children are not being adequately prepared for a future in which they can become the very best version of themselves. Something we care deeply about at Role Models.

The argument is robust enough even without the evidence of what employers are looking for. Study after study demonstrates the gulf that exists between what employers want and what children are taught. Ask yourself which company you know that doesn’t want people who can persuade, work together and solve problems. These ‘real skills’ are going to be the pathway for every young person to make their difference in the world. It’s why our company exists and it’s why we hate it when these vital areas are referred to as ‘soft skills’. There’s nothing soft about them.

– Hugo Shephard, Managing Director at Role Models

If you’d like to find out more about our Life Skills Courses, then please click here