No question about it, “soft skills” have a PR problem.
“Calling them ‘soft’ sounds derogatory. It sounds weak,” observes Jeremy Auger, co-founder and strategy chief at digital-learning powerhouse D2L, purveyor of training software to Fidelity, Accenture, and many others. “I prefer to call them durable skills. Or human skills.”
“Durable” indeed. Auger points to research showing that hard skills, particularly in IT, now become obsolete after an average of just 18 months. A knack for teamwork, or storytelling, or empathy with customers, by contrast, never wears out. You can take it with you no matter how many times you change jobs and, so far at least, artificial intelligence can’t one-up you.
Moreover, durable-slash-human skills are in huge demand just about everywhere. Consider: LinkedIn recently surveyed 4,000 U.S. managers and executives and found “soft” skills are now their No. 1 training priority. Reports from the National Association of Colleges and Employers have been advising new grads for the past few years that, while STEM majors and high GPAs are swell, what hiring managers really want is more candidates who can solve problems and work well with teammates.