“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eight. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Henry Ford
Continuing education has always played an important role on professional development. As such, most Colleges and Universities have a Continuing Education or Adult Education Department to provide short duration training courses that address what cannot be covered on what I call foundation training. I use this terminology because in my opinion, when someone graduates, the knowledge acquired will be the foundation to their on the job learning and future careers. These institutions focus on their core competencies (as they should) of technical training.
However, what are employers really looking for? According to a post from November last year, Susan Adams of Forbes says employers rank technical knowledge related to the job in seventh place of importance. All the skills that rate higher are soft skills and normally acquired by experience:
- Ability to work in a team
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems
- Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
- Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside the organization
- Ability to obtain and process information
- Ability to analyze quantitative data
Another soft skill that ranks highly (10 in her research) is the ability to sell and influence others.
In general, abilities related to good communication, adaptability and interpersonal skills rank high in any research.
Nowadays, with most experiencing career transitions every 4.4 years, as Jeanne Meister of Forbes discovered a couple of years ago, there is a pressing need of acquiring and honing soft skills. They are the truly transferable skills; they are what employers don’t expect to teach their employers. However there are very few training initiatives. This is easy to understand, since to effectively learn a soft skill the student needs to be fully committed. Also, the success rate is low exactly because of the lack of commitment and the fact that results are slow. Nevertheless, it is increasingly important to have great soft skills.
I will finish with an open question: how do you think technology can help improve the state of soft skill training?
Jose Cid is a Business Intelligence Consultant, an Educator and Coach. Throughout his life he has been helping people inside and outside of the work environment. His motto can be translated into a simple equation: Knowledge + Intelligence + Action = Power ©. Please visit www.josecid.ca for other articles and services.
Published on LinkedIn: Continuing Education and Career Transitions http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140317030954-29203545-continuing-education-and-career-transitions