For the past 10 years, I have worked with a career centre called Achēv. Our office is located at 595 Parliament Street and it is still there even though since March of 2020 all staff have been working remotely from home. Despite this, Achēv has found a way to keep everyone very connected by using Zoom, MS Teams and emails. I never feel alone and a day never passes that I do not have a conversation with one of my colleagues.
Recently my colleague, Aydolu Simsek, who is a Resource and Information Specialist with Achēv and a graduate of the George Brown College Post Diploma Career Development Practitioner Program, sent me a very interesting article by Dr. Ann Villiers, who is a career coach, writer and member of the Career Development Association of Australia. In her article titled “Why We Should Stop Using Soft Skills” Villiers presents an excellent case that the expression “soft skills” is unhelpful, inaccurate and imprecise. She encourages teachers, researchers, and career coaches to join the trend and to stop using this misleading term.
The expression “soft skills” typically refers to communication and interpersonal skills and implies that these skills are light-weight and that they “require very little effort and no special knowledge”. In reality, these skills are all heavy-weight skills and include persuading, mediating, and negotiation. Villiers suggests that by using the term “soft skills” we perpetuate the false idea that there is “little rigor in learning and applying emotional intelligence and team leadership”.
What is the alternative to the expression “soft skills”? Villiers recommends that specific words such as people skills or social skills is not only a trend but a needed international movement to create a more consistent and accurate terminology that is inclusive. I am committed to diversity, equity and inclusivity in all aspects of the workplace, career coaching, and language and maybe it is time to delete the outdated expression of “soft skills”.
I looked up the definition of “soft” and read the words: gentle, low, dim, vague, understated and pale. Squeezed in between was the word “resilient”. Perhaps the expression that we all need to use in 2021 is “resiliency skills”?
To find out more about career planning and employment preparation, contact your local Employment Ontario Career Centre and find out if you meet the criteria to use their free services.
Lisa Trudel, Career Specialist with Achēv (formerly the Centre for Education and Training), wrote this article. You can contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org