Problem solving skills, creativity, collaboration. For the past 5 years we have been told about the importance of these skills. The tide has turned. There is now a growing emphasis on the need for expertise.
Soft Skills Alone Won’t Get You a Job
Michelle Hoad, Managing Director of North Metropolitan TAFE, told the VET Careers Forum that soft skills alone are not going to get you a job. She went on to talk about employers clamouring graduates with deep technical skills.
Developing “T” Shaped Citizens
Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel told a recent Maths Association conference that there is a need to develop “T” shaped individuals. The vertical pole is the deep and narrow skills that make you an expert. The horizontal part of the T is the 21st century soft skills like communication and collaboration skills. You need the deep skills, and you need to practice and apply them so that you have something of value to communicate.
The need for rigorous academic study BEFORE you go to university is being pushed aside by alternative pathways to university and the removal of pre-requisite requirements for many courses.
Finkel calls for the reinstatement of pre-requisites by universities to signal they want deep knowledge as well as inquisitive thinkers. He quotes Jeff Bezos who calls for experts with a beginner’s mind. You can hear the Saturday Extra Podcast HERE.
The message that students need to develop deep understanding also appeared in the recently published and wonderfully named Preparing for the Best and Worst of Times.
This report recommends deep learning and recommends that VET programs focus more on developing underpinning knowledge as a long-term solution to maintaining employment as technologies change.
You can listen to a short podcast about the report HERE but the podcast doesn’t capture the profound recommendations of the full report.
Strategic Education and Training Needed
Yanis Varoufakis talks about the dumbing down of education and, at around the 27 minute mark, he proposes changes to education and training policy making in this thought provoking presentation.
Training for the 4th Industrial Revolution
In the face of all this urging for deep skills NCVER published Training for the 4th Industrial Revolution which recommends soft skills!!
So what do you do!!??
I tend to agree with Alan Finkel when he says…. something like….
…you need to have some knowledge that makes you worth communicating with!!
It seems like the combination mentioned in the conclusion of Skills for a Global Future provide a balanced summary:
The focus of VET must be beyond skilling for a job (and its technical competencies) to one that encompasses ‘soft skills’ and imparts continuous learning and adapting mind sets across a lifetime career that will involve change.
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