Thursday, November 5, 2015

Why Do Soft Skills Matter to Employers

Why do many employers still view training as superfluous, dispensable or peripheral to success? In this modern age where we have a cohort of young, educated people entering the workforce, the need for strategic  learning within companies and organizations is more important than ever.

Unorganized, on-the-job training remains the preferred method of preparing new hires and existing employees seeking to take on new responsibilities. Employers often cite the demands of day-to-day business as the primary reason that they just don’t have “time” and “money” to train and integrate employees into their workplace effectively.  They rely on the availability of skills in the open marketplace, planning that new hires will be able to step directly into the workplace and perform specific tasks.

In a broad cross section or companies and organizations I am hearing more and more that employees able to take on specific tasks, undertake increasing responsibility, work independently and conduct themselves professionally are is short supply. Employers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire specific skills for increasingly complex jobs. While the marketplace is producing a well-educated workforce, the largest part of entry level employees remain unemployed or underemployed, and as such, are not gaining experience and a practical knowledge of Soft Skills required in most workplaces today.

 The anemic employment rate is partly to blame, given the fact that in Canada and around the world the employment among young people is at epidemic levels.  Current average unemployment levels in Canada are hovering around 7.1% while youth unemployment is at about 13.5%.  This suggests that young people, and in particular, those new hires that employers are counting on to step right into their workplace are not getting the experience they need to transition their abilities into skills.

 Developing Soft Skills within this new cohort of entry level employees is increasingly important. As an example, a regional Labour Market Partnership Study ( Simcoe County)  has identified on-the job training and soft skills development as some of (over 2000, surveyed employer’s)  the most important concerns of businesses in meeting businesses future competitive and economic growth challenges.

What are Soft Skills and why do they matter? Soft Skills encompass topics like communications, leadership, problem solving and project management.  These skills provide a base of knowledge that allow employees to communicate effectively with co-workers, management and clients, understand their responsibilities in the life-cycle of projects, prepare to take on increasing responsibility and how to bring unique innovation and problem solving skills to everyday workplace challenges.

E Learning that teaches Soft Skills is designed to address many of these issues and provides learning in a way, at a time and through a medium that young learners can access readily and are familiar with. E Learning also addresses employer’s most pressing concerns by offering training programs that are flexible, accessible, cost effective and individual results can be tracked over time.

Most employers, whether they are willing to admit it or not, are not prepared to set up comprehensive learning in the workplace and often approach it with a patchwork of learning scenarios that may include costly meetings, presentations and workshops or poorly conceived eLearning that often amounts to nothing more than PowerPoint presentations.

Employers may not have the resources or commitment to understand the real value of learning in their organizations since the existing programs are cobbled together each year with no long term strategy and no clear understanding of the financial impact on their organization.   Only when a high-risk event forces action, or government intervention in monitoring compliance with workplace learning does an organization of company respond in an organized fashion.

I believe that Soft Skills development and in particular eLearning Soft Skills development can be an important cornerstone in an organizations success. It sets the ground work for employees to understand what is expected of them and helps fulfill their desire to grow, learn and take on new responsibilities and roles.

“Fulfilling an employee’s desire to grow and learn” is essential in the retention of good employees. It offers employees an opportunity to fulfill their ambition by understanding that there are opportunities for growth and advancement and as an employer you are willing to support them in their personal growth as well as their professional growth. It is a “win - win “scenario”, where the employer gets a motivated and an increasingly capable employee, and perhaps an innovative thinker, a leader that will contribute in a meaningful way to an organization's success in the future.

 If you want to learn more about soft skills online training or gain access to our unique Soft Skills eLearning program on Communications, Leadership, Project management and Problem Solving you can visit our web site at or or simply call 416-271-5259.

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