Soft skills fuel workplace success, career advancement | News, Sports, Jobs

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Hiring managers can receive dozens, sometimes hundreds, of job applications. According to LinkedIn, the average corporate job opening receives 250 applicants.

So how can job candidates stand out when many applicants boast strong academic credentials and technical know-how? Soft skills — the behavioral and personality traits that define an individual’s character — are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. In fact, some well-respected research studies found that 85% of job success derives from people skills, while only 15% comes from technical skills and knowledge.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Labor notes employers are now viewing soft skills as “even more important to work readiness” than performing fundamentals of the job.

Until the last decade or so, there really wasn’t an educational setting to master soft skills, or a tactful way to add soft skills onto a professional resume without sounding like you’re boasting.

Through funding provided by the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, a program authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, The School District of Lee County recently introduced a new program designed to provide adult learners with soft skills micro-credentials to help them succeed in the workplace. Upskill Village features a series of eight courses that teach behaviors and non-technical skills for adults looking to gain a competitive edge in the job market.

Upskill Village courses include:

• Oral Communication: Speaking with clarity and precision, as well as recognizing nonverbal cues

• Empathy: Understanding others’ perspectives and feelings

• Critical Thinking: Reasoning logically and rigorously

• Resilience: Learning from experience and adapting

• Intercultural Fluency: Operating and communicating in different cultural contexts

• Collaboration: Working productively with others toward a common goal

• Creative Problem Solving: Solving problems in new ways by thinking differently

• Initiative: Identifying needs and responding proactively

For generations, soft skills have been hidden skills. Employers often wouldn’t find out that a new employee was a poor communicator or lackluster team player, for instance, until he or she was already hired. Successfully completing courses through Upskill Village lets employers know they are getting a well-rounded employee — not just someone who looks good on paper, but an individual who thrives in today’s collaborative workplace environment.

Micro-credentials are short, competency-based programs that cover skills not always addressed when pursuing a high school diploma or college degree. For individuals without an extensive formal education or decades of successful on-the-job experience, supplementing the education section of their resume with micro-credentials demonstrates to potential employers that they are committed to continuous professional improvement and advancement in their careers.

The School District of Lee County received a grant that provides full tuition scholarships for Lee County residents 16 and older who enroll in Upskill Village. Proof of residency is required. To register, please visit Upskill Village’s website, email [email protected] or call 239-939-6310.

Brian Mangan is director of adult and career education for The School District of Lee County.


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