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Importance of Soft Skills for Education and Career Success

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Appropriate soft skills play an important role in a successful career as well as during social interactions in the society. These skills are also highly sought after by employers recruiting fresh graduates. The main purpose of this study was to investigate students’ perceptions of the importance of soft skills for their education and employment. A questionnaire was used for data collection and 188 undergraduate business management students from four universities in Singapore participated in this study. It was found that a majority of the respondents felt that soft skills were useful for social interaction as well as for career advancement. However, they did not think that these skills contribute considerably to their academic performance. The top five important soft skills identified by the students were: teamwork and collaboration, decision-making, problem-solving, time management and critical thinking skills. This paper suggests certain measures for improving soft skills of students which may also help improve their employment perspectives.
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Importance of Soft Skills for Education and Career Success
Shaheen Majid, Zhang Liming, Shen Tong, Siti Raihana
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Abstract
Appropriate soft skills play an important role in
a successful career as well as during social
interactions in the society. These skills are also
highly sought after by employers recruiting fresh
graduates. The main purpose of this study was to
investigate students’ perceptions of the importance of
soft skills for their education and employment. A
questionnaire was used for data collection and 188
undergraduate business management students from
four universities in Singapore participated in this
study. It was found that a majority of the respondents
felt that soft skills were useful for social interaction
as well as for career advancement. However, they did
not think that these skills contribute considerably to
their academic performance. The top five important
soft skills identified by the students were: teamwork
and collaboration, decision-making, problem-solving,
time management and critical thinking skills. This
paper suggests certain measures for improving soft
skills of students which may also help improve their
employment perspectives.
1. Introduction
Due to a variety of factors, today’s business
environment is becoming more complex, uncertain
and competitive. All types of organizations consider
human resources as their key asset, which plays a
critical role in organizational performance and
success. Most employers are likely to hire, retain and
promote persons who are dependable, resourceful,
ethical, having effective communication, self
directed, willing to work and learn, and having
positive attitude [1]. Employers usually prefer to see
a fine blend of competencies in their staff and, in
addition to discipline-based knowledge and skills,
adequate levels of soft skills are considered desirable
for moving forward in the career [2]. They feel
professional and technical skills alone cannot help
achieve organizational goals and objectives. It is
because their staff will also be involved in different
levels of leadership and decision-making activities.
Employees also need to communicate effectively
within the organization, with their customers and
other stakeholders.
Basically, soft skills refer to personalities,
attributes, qualities and personal behaviour of
individuals. Soft skills include certain abilities such
as communication, problem-solving, self-motivation,
decision-making, and time management skills [3]. A
study by Hodges and Burchell [4] investigated the
perceptions of business employers of the importance
of different skills. It was reported that eight out of
top ten skills were soft skills which included the
ability and willingness to learn, teamwork and
cooperation, interpersonal communication, energy
and passion, and problem-solving skills. A study
covering over 52 different professions with more than
8,000 managers in the United States identified soft
skills of employees as the major competency in
nearly all the professions, even in the technical
environments [5].
While it is now a well-established fact that
employers are increasingly putting more emphasis on
soft skills, it is equally important that students should
also adequately appreciate the value of such skills
and make deliberate efforts to acquire them. Porter
[6] reported that many business students do not put
much value to developing soft skills. Probably that is
why, as suggested by Rynes et al [7], the business
students’ attitude towards behavioural courses, with
substantial coverage given to soft skills development,
is usually negative together with their reluctance to
register for such courses. As a result, there is an
awareness gap resulting in deficiency of soft skills
among business graduates entering the work force.
Consequently, there is now more pressure on
academic institutions to enhance soft skills of their
students. Kumara and Sahasranam [8] used a core
soft skills inventory test to investigate soft skills of
engineering students in India. They reported that,
with well-planned training programs, it is possible to
tune, shape and develop creativity and soft skills
among all students. Addams et al [9] believed the
communication skills of business students,
particularly for writing persuasive business letters,
can be improved by designing assignments using
real-life organizations and scenarios. Alshare, Lane
and Miller [10] studied perceptions of students and
faculty of the adequacy of soft skills in information
systems curricula in different universities in the USA.
It was reported that generally students were more
satisfied than faculty about the coverage of soft skills.
Realizing the importance of soft skills, several studies
International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 2, 2012
Copyright © 2012, Infonomics Society
1036
have also emphasised the point that these skills
should be embedded in the curriculum, thus making it
easier for students to acquire them [11, 12].
The literature review suggests that a majority of
the studies on this topic have been done from
employers’ perspective and only a limited number of
studies have focused on the perceptions and attitudes
of students towards soft skills. In addition, a higher
percentage of such studies were conducted in North
America and Europe with different learning
environment and work culture then in many Asian
countries. It is, therefore, worth exploring students’
perceptions of soft skills from a new angle and
context. The main objective of this study was to
investigate the perceptions of business management
students of the importance of soft skills for their
education and employment. Some areas covered by
this study were: students’ perceptions of the value of
soft skills, self-efficacy of the level of skills
possessed by them, skills needing further
improvement, participation in skill development
programs, and the role of academic institutions in
developing soft skills.
2. Methodology
A questionnaire was used to collect data from
undergraduate business management students from
four universities in Singapore, i.e. Nanyang
Technological University (NTU), National University
of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management
University (SMU), and Singapore Institute of
Management (SIM). The questionnaire was mainly
consisted of multiple choice and rating scale matrix
questions to solicit responses. Most of the questions
were close-ended, however wherever needed, the
respondents were provided with the flexibility to
make comments or provide additional information.
The ethics approval of the study was obtained from
the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the
University.
The survey participants were selected through
the convenience sampling technique. Business
management undergraduate students at the four
selected universities were approached with an oral
request to participate in this study. A copy of
questionnaire was provided to those students who
expressed their willingness to participate. The survey
lasted for two weeks in the second quarter of 2011,
and a total of 188 students participated in this study.
3. Findings
The following sections provide data analysis and
findings of the survey.
3.1. Respondents profile
A comparable number of participants from the
four universities participated in this study: SIM (51),
NTU (50), SMU (49), and NUS (44). Six respondents
did not fully complete the questionnaire; therefore,
the data analysis is based on 188 completely filled-in
survey forms. The percentage of Singaporean and
overseas students was 67.6% and 32.4% respectively.
The overseas students were mainly from China,
India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand and the
Philippines. In terms of gender, more female
respondents took part (57.8%) than their male
counterparts (42.2%). As for the year of study, there
were 72 respondents (38.3%) in their second year of
study and it was the largest group, while 41 (21.8%)
were in first year, 52 (27.7%) in third year and only
18 (9.6%) were in their fourth year of study. Five
students did not indicate their year of study.
3.2. Awareness of soft skills
The participating students were asked what skills, in
their opinion, can be categorized as soft skills. The
purpose was to investigate if they have a clear
understanding of soft skills. Based on literature
review, a list of 14 skills was developed. Out of the
188 respondents, less than 40 (21.3%) students chose
all the skills, which reflects their limited
understanding of soft skills. The top four soft skills,
as identified by the students, were communication,
leadership, persuasion and negotiation skills (see
Table 1).
Table 1. Skills considered as soft skills by the
respondents (multiple responses)
Ranking
Soft Skills
Frequency
(n=188)
1
Communication skills
147
2
Leadership skills
118
3
Persuasion skills
112
4
Negotiation skills
107
5
Conflict management
91
6
Time management
74
7
Problem solving
71
8
Teamwork spirit
70
9
Creative problem solving
70
10
Personal effectiveness
62
11
Strategic thinking
61
12
Positive work attitude
54
13
Willingness to learn
48
14
Passion towards work
42
Some of the personality attributes such as
positive work attitude, willingness to learn and
passion towards work were not regarded as soft skills
by a majority of the students. Other soft skills
International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 2, 2012
Copyright © 2012, Infonomics Society
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suggested by the students, not included in the
questionnaire, were project management skills’,
‘saying no to inappropriate requests/suggestions’ and
know when/where to stop arguments.
3.3. Perceived importance of soft skills
A set of statements were used to investigate
students’ overall perceptions of the importance of
soft skills. A majority of the students either agreed or
strongly agreed with the statements that soft skills
were very important for career advancement, highly
sought after by employers, and for getting a better job
(see Table 2). Similarly, 103 (55.1%) of the
respondents agreed with the suggestion that soft skills
are difficult to learn compared to professional
knowledge and skills.
On the contrary, a majority of the respondents
either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the
statements that soft skills cannot be enhanced through
practice and that these skills were not as important as
professional knowledge and skills. This indicates that
students have a good understanding of the important
and value of soft skills.
Table 2. General perceptions of soft skills (n=187)
Statement
D
N
A
SA
Soft skills are critical for
career advancement
7
39
83
52
Soft skills are highly
sought after by employers
7
52
89
34
Soft skills are important for
getting a better job
8
48
95
31
Soft skills are difficult to
learn compared to
professional knowledge
31
48
83
20
Soft skills cannot be
enhanced through practice
81
47
28
6
Soft skills are not as
important as professional
knowledge
56
38
33
12
SD: strongly disagree, D: disagree, N: neutral, A: agree,
SA: strongly agree
Students were also asked to rate the importance
of soft skills for different purposes, using a 7-point
semantic differential scale. As shown in Table 3, soft
skills were considered the most important for ‘getting
along with people’ (mean score 5.70), followed by
‘career advancement’ (mean score 5.46). However,
the students felt that such skills were comparatively
less important for their academic performance.
Table 3. Importance of soft skills
Purpose
n
Mean
(1~7)
SD
Getting along with people
188
5.70
1.46
Career advancement
188
5.46
1.69
Finding a job
188
5.07
1.64
Academic performance
188
4.29
1.82
To further corroborate students’ perceptions of
the importance of soft skills, they were asked to rate
the relative importance of a set of 14 skills, derived
from previous studies, for the purpose of
employment. The five top skills were: leadership,
teamwork, decision-making, problem solving, and
time management (see Table 4).
Table 4. Importance of soft skills for employment
Soft Skills
n
Mean
(1~7)
SD
Leadership
187
5.53
1.35
Teamwork and collaboration
187
5.47
1.28
Decision-making
187
5.43
1.43
Problem-solving
186
5.38
1.39
Time management
187
5.34
1.36
Passion and optimism
187
5.29
1.25
Critical thinking skills
183
5.27
1.45
Willingness to learn
187
5.26
1.37
Self-motivation and self-direction
186
5.16
1.40
Making presentations
187
5.05
1.74
Small group discussions
187
5.00
1.50
Writing business communications
187
4.91
1.32
Writing proposals
187
4.68
1.29
Writing memoranda
186
4.62
1.24
It was a matter of concern that five
communication-related soft skills were perceived to
be the least important for seeking employment. It was
particularly puzzling as earlier the highest number
(147 or 78.2%) of the respondents categorized it as a
soft skill. It means although they consider
communication-related skills as part of soft skills,
they do not think these skills are important in seeking
employment despite the fact that they need to prepare
their job applications and appear for interviews.
3.4. Importance of soft skills for different
professions
The students were asked to indicate the
importance of soft skills for different business related
professions. Students felt that soft skills were more
important for those jobs where business professionals
need to frequently communicate and interact with
International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 2, 2012
Copyright © 2012, Infonomics Society
1038
customers and other stakeholders, such job positions
as marketing executives, sales personnel and
insurance consultants (see Table 5). On the contrary,
they felt that professionals involved in back office
jobs such as financial analysts, auditors, and
accounts, need comparatively lesser levels of soft
skills. Although business professionals engaged in
such jobs probably less frequently communicate with
external customers, they still need good soft skills to
effectively discharge their responsibilities within the
organization.
Table 5. Level of soft skills required by different
category of professionals (n=188)
3.5. Students’ perception of the level of soft
skills possessed by them
The students were asked about their self-
assessment of the level of soft skills possessed by
them. The top five soft skills, as claimed by the
students were: willingness to learn, teamwork,
passion and optimism, time management, and self-
motivation and self-direction (see Table 6).
Table 6. Self-assessment of the level of soft skills
possessed by the respondents (n=188)
Once again, bottom five skills were related to
communication which means students think that they
do not possess adequate levels of communication
skills.
The correlation analysis showed a strong
relationship between the perceived importance of the
majority of soft skills and the level of these skills
possessed by the students (see Table 7). In other
words, students scored better for those skills which
they perceived to be important. It is likely they were
making efforts to improve those skills that they
considered important. As most of the communication
related skills were considered less important for
career development, there is a need that academic
institutions should create awareness among students
about the importance of such skills in seeking
employment and undertaking work related activities.
Table 7. Correlation between perceived importance and
skills level
Soft Skills
Correlation
Willingness to learn
.395(**)
Teamwork and cooperation
.384(**)
Passion and optimism
.355(**)
Time management
.231(**)
Self-motivation and self-direction
.416(**)
Decision-making
.244(**)
Problem-solving
.235(**)
Leadership
.186(*)
Critical thinking skills
.305(**)
Small group discussions
.524(**)
Writing proposals
.121
Making presentations
.529(**)
Writing business communications
.184(*)
Writing memoranda
.259(**)
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
3.6. Desire for improving soft skills
The respondents were asked to choose what soft
skills they would like to improve. The top two soft
skills that students wanted to improve were
leadership and communication skills (see Table 8).
Earlier these skills were also picked as the two most
important soft skills (see Table 1). However, it was
interesting to note that when communication skills
were divided into more specific communication skills
(see Table 4), these skills received the lowest
ranking. It appeared there were some misperceptions
among the students about the scope of different
communication skills.
Profession
Mean
(1~7)
SD
Marketing Executives
5.86
1.21
Sales Personnel
5.74
1.40
Insurance Service Consultants
5.72
1.30
Media & Advertising Executives
5.72
1.30
Corporate Communications Officers
5.66
1.37
Human Resource Officers
5.64
1.39
Project Management Executives
5.57
1.36
Financial Service Consultants
5.32
1.31
Business Administrators
4.99
1.47
Stock Brokers
4.98
1.56
Bank Executives
4.88
1.57
Financial Analysts
4.79
1.19
Auditors
4.19
1.50
Accountants
3.78
1.56
Soft Skills
Mean
(1~7)
SD
Willingness to learn
5.32
1.29
Teamwork and collaboration
5.32
1.26
Passion and optimism
5.05
1.19
Time management
5.01
1.33
Self-motivation and self-direction
4.95
1.23
Decision-making
4.95
1.22
Problem-solving
4.94
1.21
Leadership
4.90
1.33
Critical thinking skills
4.90
1.37
Small group discussions
4.87
1.27
Writing proposals
4.64
1.17
Making presentations
4.63
1.44
Writing business communications
4.56
1.27
Writing memoranda
4.43
1.25
International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 2, 2012
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Table 8. Soft skills needing improvement
(multiple responses)
Ranking
Soft Skills
Frequency
(n=188)
1
Leadership skills
88
2
Communication skills
87
3
Persuasion skills
83
4
Negotiation skills
80
5
Conflict resolution
79
6
Time management
71
7
Strategic thinking
68
8
Problem solving
63
9
Personal effectiveness
62
9 (tied)
Creative problem solving
62
11
Positive work attitude
39
12
Willingness to learn
38
13
Teamwork spirit
35
14
Passion towards work
34
The next two soft skills that students wanted to
improve were persuasion and negotiation skills. Four
soft skills that only 20% or fewer students wanted to
improve were positive work attitude, willingness to
learn, teamwork spirit, and passion towards work. It
was probably because earlier only a very small
number of the students considered these skills as part
of soft skills (see Table 1).
3.7. Barrier to developing and practicing
communication skills
As many previous studies suggest that a majority
of the students lack adequate communication skills,
students participating in this study were asked about
the barriers encountered by them in developing and
practicing different communication skills. The top
four barriers, as identified by the students, were: lack
of confidence, nervousness, shyness, and lack of
proper training (see Table 9).
Table 9. Barriers to practicing communication skills
(n=188)
Although around one-third of the respondents
were from overseas, limited English language
proficiency and cultural difference did not appear as
the major barriers to communication. It appeared that
proper training and adequate opportunities to practice
are likely to improve communication skills of the
students.
3.8. Efforts by academic institutions for
imparting soft skills
The students were asked about the avenues and
opportunities provided by their respective universities
for developing soft skills. Around 54% of the
students said that soft skills were usually embedded
in different academic courses. Another 47% of the
students mentioned that they had taken some credit
courses that focused on developing certain soft skills.
Some examples of such credit courses, as quoted by
the students, were: Business Communication,
Strategic Management, Leadership and Team-
Building, Management Communication, Effective
Communication, Fundamental Communication,
Creative Problem-solving, and Strategic Thinking.
In addition to integrating soft skills in certain
professional courses and specialized soft skills
development credit courses, the universities of the
participating students were also providing many
opportunities to their students to improve soft skills.
A list of such activities, compiled through discussions
with business students and their school
administrators, was provided in the questionnaire to
allow the respondents to indicate their level of
participation in these activities. Table 10 shows that,
except for ‘students coffee sessions’, other programs
were often participated by less than 20% of the
students. Most of the programs that could help
develop students’ soft skills were ‘rarely’ participated
by a majority of the students. It appeared that the
students were heavily relying on business
professional courses as well as specialized courses
designed for improving certain skills and to lesser
extent on other soft skills development programs.
Table 10. Participation in soft skills development
programs (n=187)
Programmes/Activities
Never
Rarely
Often
Workshops/ guest talks
11.2%
70.1%
18.7%
Job hunting skills
18.2%
65.8%
16.0%
Company orientation sessions
22.5%
58.8%
18.7%
Career advising sessions
27.8%
55.6%
16.6%
Students coffee sessions
27.8%
49.2%
23.0%
In addition, a set of statements were used to
capture students’ perceptions of the possible benefits
of different school-based initiatives in improving
their soft skills. These statements presented both
positive and negative sides of these programs. More
than 61% of the students either agreed or strongly
Barriers
Frequency
1
Lack of confidence
89
2
Nervousness
88
3
Shyness
59
4
Lack of proper training
58
5
Non-encouraging environment
51
6
Language deficiency
48
7
Lack of knowledge
47
8
Cultural barriers
38
International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 2, 2012
Copyright © 2012, Infonomics Society
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agreed with three statements suggesting that soft
skills programs provided them opportunities to gain
hands-on experience, boosted their skill levels, and
showed ways to apply soft skills in different
situations (see Table 11). However, split responses
were received for two statements suggesting that
content of these soft skills programs were less
relevant and cannot be easily applied into practice.
More respondents disagreed than agreed with the
statement that these programs were only theoretical
in nature. In other words they believed that skills
taught through these programs had their applicability.
Table 11. Perceptions of the benefits of soft skills
programs (multiple responses)
Statements
SD
D
N
A
SA
Provided opportunities for
hands-on experience
5
5
54
99
24
Provided me opportunities to
boost my soft skills
6
5
57
85
34
Showed adaptability of soft
skills in many situations
3
11
59
92
22
The contents are not so relevant
with soft skills improvement
7
45
75
53
7
The contents cannot be easily
applied into practice
10
42
77
45
12
Showed the usefulness of soft
skills only in theory
19
41
74
37
15
SD: strongly disagree, D: disagree, N: neutral, A: agree,
SA: strongly agree
3.7. Suggestions for improving students’ soft
skills
The respondents were asked to suggest measures
that universities should undertake for improving soft
skills of their students. Over 60% of the students
recommended that more soft skills development
activities should be incorporated into the curriculum
(see Table 12). Two other measures suggested by
around 45% of the students were to organize more
soft skills development workshops and hands-on
activities. Once again it appeared that, instead of
attending specialized soft skills development
workshops, a majority of the students desired that
such skills should be embedded in appropriate
professional courses.
Table 12. Soft skills development measures to be
undertaken taken by universities (multiple responses)
In addition, the respondents were asked to
suggest measures that students should undertake for
improving their soft skills. Nearly one-half of the
respondents suggested that students should attend
professional training workshops for improving their
soft skills (see Table 13). It was also suggested by
42% of the respondents each that students should join
those hobby clubs and students’ union activities that
can help improve their soft skills.
Table 13. Soft skills development measures to be
undertaken by students (multiple responses)
4. Conclusion
The purpose of this study was to investigate
students’ perceptions of the importance of soft skills
for education and employment. The results showed
that generally business management students in
Singapore were aware of the importance of soft skills
for employment and career advancement. However,
many students felt that their actual soft skills were
less than the desired levels. It was also found that
communication skills were perceived to be the least
important by the students and probably that is why
they did not try to improve these skills. It was a
matter of concern as many previous studies,
investigating competencies sought after by potential
employers, reported that communication skills were
among the most desired soft skills. Thus there is need
to create awareness among the students about the
importance of communication skills for career
advancement and how to develop and practice such
skills.
Another related finding was that a majority of the
students expressed the opinion that soft skills training
should be embedded in appropriate business courses.
Probably this approach was preferred because it
could provide an opportunity to the students to
understand how to apply these skills in a specific
situation. It is also possible that they feel overloaded
with professional courses thus less inclined to attend
specialized soft skill development programs
organized by their universities. It is, therefore,
desirable that business schools as well as other
Suggested Measures
Frequency
Incorporate more soft skills development
activities into the curriculum
114
Organize more workshops
84
Organize more hands-on activities
81
Arrange more internship programmes
75
Organize more company orientation talks
54
Suggested Measures
Frequency
Attend professional training workshops
93
Join hobby clubs providing soft skills
development opportunities
79
Participate in activities organized by the
student unions
72
Read books and articles on soft skills-related
topics
70
International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 2, 2012
Copyright © 2012, Infonomics Society
1041
schools should carefully review and incorporate the
desired soft skills into their curricula. However, they
should also continue running specialized training
workshops to help students further improve their soft
skills. It is equally important that students should also
make efforts for improving their skills level through
self-directed readings and participation in appropriate
skills development programs and activities.
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International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), Special Issue Volume 2 Issue 2, 2012
Copyright © 2012, Infonomics Society
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... However, every single decision regarding the choice of the right major, getting a quality internship, and decision on the best extracurricular activities plays an important role in one's future. Encouraging students to focus on their right major and engage in quality internships while attending college and equipping them with entrepreneur skills during their study is important to get timely employment (Groh et al., 2012;Majid et al., 2012;Shakir, 2009;Sławińska & Villani, 2014). One can mention many possible factors that can prolong the graduates' employment. ...
... As stated by Gill, R (Gill, 2018)., employability skills, particularly interpersonal skills such as networking, job application, time management, and effective work habits can be developed through participation in an educational forum that may increase the professional employability of recent graduates. Also, many authors (e.g., R. Shakir (Shakir, 2009), M. Groh, et al. (Groh et al., 2012), S. Majid, et al. (Majid et al., 2012), and K. Sławińska and C. S. Villani (Sławińska & Villani, 2014)) believe that encouraging students to focus on their rights major and engage in quality internships while attending college and equipping them with entrepreneur skills during their study is important to get timely employment. ...
... Regarding the effect of graduates' internship experience, many researchers have showed that a number of graduates find jobs and hired simply because of their successful completion of internship (Gill, 2018;Groh et al., 2012;Hardin-Ramanan et al., 2020;Harry et al., 2018;Majid et al., 2012;Nicholaus & Eliafura, 2016;Shakir, 2009;Siraye et al., 2018;Sławińska & Villani, 2014;Yizengaw, 2018). However, this study showed that graduates who have had an internship experience during their study and those who did not have an internship experience were not statistically different in the waiting time to get their first job. ...
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In Sub-Saharan African countries like Ethiopia, the waiting time for graduates before having their first job is very high. This study aimed at predicting the waiting time to get their first job and the effects of the associated factors. A retrospective study was conducted based on the 2021 graduate tracer survey data at Wolkite University. By considering the complete information on the total of 2069 graduates, the accelerated failure time model was used to identify the different factors. The median waiting time to first employment for the graduates was 17 months. The Weibull accelerated failure time model was the most efficient model to examine the waiting time among other survival models. It revealed that graduates from all colleges had shorter waiting times when compared to colleges of agriculture and natural resource. Graduates who scored lower have been waiting longer to get their first employment when compared to the high scorer. Graduates who were from Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, and other regions have been waiting for about 1.30, 1.18, 1.93, and 1.38 times longer, respectively, compared to those who were from Addis Ababa. Also, graduates who search for a job through relations and others had shorter waiting times when compared to those searching through public advertisements. College of graduates, CGPA, region, ways of searching for a job, and numbers of applications were statistically significant factors identified. So considering these factors is vital to produce labor market-oriented professionals hired within a short time.
... This positive relationship was confirmed in a study among 536 (vice)principals in Nigeria who reported the same perception (Obilor, 2019). However, the same opinion could not be found among students (Majid et al., 2012). In a study by Hwang (2018), a positive correlation between teamwork skills and improved performance at an Enterprise Resource Planning simulation with university students could be found. ...
... The fact that the general importance of soft skills (hypothesis P.1) as well as the importance of most individual soft skills (hypotheses P.1, S.5.a, and S.5.b) correlated positively with student performance is in accordance with studies among secondary (vice-)principals (Obilor, 2019) and among UK students (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2010), but contradictory to a survey among students from Singapore (Majid et al., 2012). ...
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We investigated how students perceive the role of IYPT (www.iypt.org) participation in their development of soft skills. We also investigated how students teachers assess the contribution of YPT participation to students soft skills development. Third, we link self-reported soft-skill development to performance in research tasks, as assessed by international panels of experts in the context of a physics competition. Taken together, the three steps, by triangulating the relationship between inquiry-based learning and soft-skill development, allow building inference about how inquiry-based learning helps students build soft skills, and how these soft skills influence student performance in research tasks. The data for the three stages includes 308 student responses for stage one, 33 teacher responses for stage two, and 794 expert (teachers, researchers, and university professors) assessments of student performance for stage three. Condensing the detailed findings from our analysis, we suggest thirteen guidelines for developing soft skills in students below.
... Soft skills refer to intrapersonal and interpersonal knowledge and skills, including teamwork, communication, leadership, problem-solving, self-regulation, self-motivation, time management, decision-making, etc.) (Majid et al., 2012). These skills are meaningful to helping young people with critical developmental transitions, such as employment, because they provide essential social-emotional skills needed to thrive in adulthood. ...
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Employment is identified as a key factor that supports emerging adult Black men in reentry with making a successful the transition to adulthood. Although anti-Black racism creates barriers to them securing and maintaining legitimate employment, strength-based, education-focused alternative schools that are structured to meet their intersectional needs and experiences can help to promote their transition to employment. Yet, little is known about how these schools promote resilience and career readiness among this population and the ways in which they perceive these strategies to support their transition to employment. As such, this single, exploratory qualitative case study, which included observations, interviews, and focus groups sought to better understand how, if at all, an alternative school promotes resilience and career readiness among emerging adult Black men in reentry. Work readiness training, internships, and job search and placement assistance emerged as meaningful career and technical services and support that the young men with making the transition into employment. While working and attending school simultaneously posed challenges to school engagement and completion, the findings highlight the important promotive and protective role strength-based alternative schools can play in promoting positive educational and employment-related experiences and outcomes among emerging adult Black men in reentry.
... Full-stack developers must be able to perform across several skill areas, from databases to graphics design and user experience management. Soft skills include the quality of interpersonal relations such as teamwork, decisionmaking, cooperation, collaboration, conflict resolution, and communication skills [12]. In this section, we separately present previous research in the areas of teaching software developments skills and soft skills for software engineering students. ...
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Full-stack software development skills are highly sought after by the tech industry. These skills are often obtained through hands-on experience in addition to learning the fundamental knowledge. Therefore, in order to provide effective training to software engineering students, it is important that educational institutions invest in innovative and practical training strategies. constructivist teaching and learning activities such as Project-based learning (PBL) can serve as effective strategies to provide hands-on and practical learning experiences for software engineering students. However, given the complexities of software development life-cycle, it would be highly beneficial to tailor a PBL approach that supports student learning and provides effective training. This research proposes an agile-based learning framework to facilitate learning of full-stack software development and the soft-skills that complement it. This framework has been applied to a software development and architecture course at the University of Calgary in fall 2021. The student perception of the delivery of the course and their performance is presented through survey, and the analysis of their Git repositories.
... However, these assessments cannot be reduced to a matching process between an individual's technical skillset and job role (Majid et al., 2012;Metz & Jones, 2013;Ngang Tang, 2019). The importance of including non-technical skills, interests, values, aptitude and personality traits is essential to assess individuals in making informed decisions regarding their careers. ...
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Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) has witnessed significant growth over the last twenty-five years, providing a wide range of technologies to support academic, institutional, and administrative services. More recently, AIED applications have been developed to prepare students for the workforce, providing career guidance services for higher education. However, this remains challenging, especially concerning the rapidly changing labour market in the IT sector. In this paper, we introduce an AI-based solution named C3-IoC (https://c3-ioc.co.uk), which intends to help students explore career paths in IT according to their level of education, skills and prior experience. The C3-IoC presents a novel similarity metric method for relating existing job roles to a range of technical and non-technical skills. This also allows the visualisation of a job role network, placing the student within communities of job roles. Using a unique knowledge base, user skill profiling, job role matching, and visualisation modules, the C3-IoC supports students in self-evaluating their skills and understanding how they relate to emerging IT jobs.
... Studies also show that occupations requiring soft skills for worker success are growing in importance (Taylor, 2018;Deming, 2017;National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2017;Davidson, 2017). A Singapore study found that college students from several Asian nations, including Indonesia, perceive that soft skills are important for employment and career advancement (Majid, et al., 2012). Furthermore, after reviewing multiple empirical studies investigating the issue, Balcar (2014) found positive wage returns to soft skills and evidence that soft skills may help close gender wage gaps. ...
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This study examines the relationship between a United States Agency for International Development financial life skills training program for poor and vulnerable youth in Indonesia on labor market outcomes two years following the training. Longitudinal results indicate that self-efficacy and financial behaviors improved from pre-training to two years after the training, and a logistic regression analysis finds significant correlations between self-efficacy and financial behaviors with finding new or better employment. Because financial literacy education can be associated with improved financial behaviors, and soft skills acquisition can be associated with improved self-efficacy, we conclude that the training program led indirectly to new or better employment outcomes for participants. Reinforcing this result, between 92 and 97 percent of the trained youth attributed the training program to their observed improvements in work performance and/or to new or better employment opportunities.
... Graphical methods used to represent concepts as opposed to traditional education, such as the concept mapping method, allow the graphical mapping of information, the identification of linear and cross-relations in the curriculum, thus contributing to deeper understanding and better academic performance (Chen et al., 2019;Chiou et al., 2020;Hwang et al., 2020;Machado & Carvalho, 2020;Zubaidah et al., 2020). However, in addition to academic performance, the concept mapping method also has a positive effect on the development of higher-order cognitive abilities, such as metacognition (Prinz et al., 2020;Redford et al., 2012;Stevenson et al., 2017;Thiede et al., 2010) and critical thinking (Aein & Aliakbari, 2017;Cañas et al., 2017;Carvalho et al., 2020;Chen & Hwang, 2020;Khrais & Saleh, 2020;Mohammadi et al., 2019;Roshangar et al., 2020;Tseng, 2019;Yue et al., 2017), which contribute not only to academic success but also to success in life and career (Hyslop-Margison & Graham, 2001;Majid et al., 2012;Strods & Strode, 2018). The concept mapping method is becoming more prevalent in education, being suitable for developing both critical thinking ability (Aein & Aliakbari, 2017; Preliminary reviews and meta-analyses have profile-specifically investigated the effect of the concept mapping method on critical thinking. ...
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Our meta-analysis investigates the effectiveness of the concept mapping method compared with the traditional teaching method, for the improvement of critical thinking ability and disposition outcomes. We included studies measuring students' critical thinking through standardised tests, comparing an experimental (concept mapping) group with a control (traditional teaching) one. Effect sizes for critical thinking ability and disposition outcomes were pooled with a random-effects model. We included in our meta-analysis 21 studies (108 comparisons) involving 1695 students. The concept mapping method was more effective than the traditional teaching method at posttest for the improvement of critical thinking ability (g = 0.531, 95% CI 0.279 to 0.783) and disposition (g = 0.648, 95% CI 0.266 to 1.031). Heterogeneity was moderate to high, Egger's test did not indicate any evidence of publication bias; however, both visual inspection of the Funnel plot and Duval and Tweedie's trim and fill method indicated potentially three missing studies for critical thinking ability and two for critical thinking disposition. Additionally, we analysed the potential moderating effect of students' demographic characteristics, educational conditions, concept mapping elaboration methods and allocation type. Allocation type was a significant moderator, having a strong effect on concept mapping for critical thinking abilities in randomised studies (g = 0.739, 95% CI 0.356 to 1.122), but its effect is low in non-randomised studies (g = 0.265, 95% CI 0.014 to 0.517).
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The aptitude test that uses psychometric assessment has been widely used by most employers around the world during the recruitment process to predict candidate abilities in numerical, verbal, abstract, space, and concentration. Given its importance as a job predictor for fresh graduates, this paper investigates the level of aptitude achievement among final-year social science students. This paper also compares the results of aptitude achievement based on the student's socio-demographic background such as gender, ethnicity, CGPA, and job interests. A total of 88 FSSK students from various programs were randomly selected in the sample conducted in March 2012. A set of measurement instruments containing 30 aptitude questions was developed by researchers using an existing questionnaire's benchmarks modified from the Aptitude Test Psychometric Success for Graduates (ATPSG) 2010. Findings show that the mastery level of all aptitude questions among the respondents is deficient and fails to exceed the minimum passing score of 60 percent. Test results also showed that the achievement of aptitude did not differ significantly based on gender factors (t=-126, k =>0.05), ethnicity (t =-.462, k =>0.05), area of origin (t= 1.832, k =>0.05), job interest (t =-.188, k =>0.05) and CGPA (t=1.545, k => 0.05). This paper concludes graduate students are having very low scores on aptitude tests and recommending the tests be used as specialty tests at universities for preparatory readiness.
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Abstract - The article discusses with the role of academic libraries in higher institutions in the effective management of knowledge. Four main types of knowledge are highlighted and sequenced, the paper showed that knowledge management can be achieved through a set of basic managerial functions and skills, such as interpersonal skills, information skills, and decision making skills. It also highlighted roles required or planned to improve effective knowledge management. For example, Academic libraries need to upgrade their skills needed for technological advancement, Scribd delivery, Web 2.0, social media, and electronic library automation. Some challenges were identified such as: Power outages, network problems, lack of qualified staff and funding, etc. It concluded that academic libraries should ensure the optimal use of technology to improve the effective management of knowledge. Therefore, it was recommended, among other things, that academic libraries should provide support to supplement electricity in the event of a power outage. Provision of high-powered solar systems and generators that provide stable power. Specialized ICT personnel should be recruited to assist academic libraries in the effective management of information. Keywords: Academic Libraries, Enhancement, Higher Institutions, Knowledge Management, Roles, Strengthening, Technology.
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An analysis of self-efficacy and its effect on employment was performed with data obtained from Food Industry Engineering Students (FIES), with strong food engineering, food manufacturing and innovation-related competencies, from 2019 to 2021. The aim was to determine if there is a relationship between self-efficacy and employment in FIES to define potential actions for educational institutions looking to reduce the gender disparity in professional life. Results showed differences in self-assessment categories regarding gender, with men having a better self-perception, especially in economic analysis and clarity in professional objectives. Women rate higher only in food development, traditionally associated with women from household to the food industry. Except for the entrepreneur positions favoring men, these differences were not observed in the employment data 1 year after graduation. This might be due to the national context where entrepreneurship is associated with masculine traits. Tasks commonly associated with specific genders seem to influence student self-efficacy, but this is not reflected in the employment rate of FIES at least within the evaluated period. Food Industry Engineering is considered atypical within STEM disciplines because more women graduate than men depicting gender roles similar to those in the national environment. These results are important for employers, government, and higher education institutions to create strategies to improve self-efficacy among students to reach their full potential as employees and as entrepreneurs to create a better environment for national economic development.
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With the changing educational trends, versatility in educational courses, availability of masses of qualified personnel,the competition for job acquisition and job sustainability is becoming more and more tough. To get an edge overthe competitors, students are left with no choice but to add values to their hard skills with soft skills to exhibit their truepotential. Hard skills are academic skills, experience and level of expertise while soft skills are self-developed, interactive,communication, human and transferable skills. Literature suggests that hard skills contribute to only 15% of one's successwhile remaining 85% is made by soft skills. Most employers these days want to hire, retain and promote persons who aredependable, resourceful, ethical, self directed, having effective communication, willing to work and learn and having positiveattitude. With the onset of economic liberalization, the Indian market is also becoming global, so the attributes of soft skillsare to be imbibed by Indian youth to show their real potential at intra and international levels. Understanding the importanceof this newly raised important aspect, most of the educational institutions in India have initiated programmes, projects andactivities for developing soft skills in their students. A study was undertaken in the most dynamic city of India, Chandigarh,also recognized as Knowledge City, where almost all types of educational facilities and job opportunities are available. The study tries to understand the awareness, need and importance of soft skills in students, type of courses/projects/activitiesinitiated by varied educational institutions at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, their relevance, teaching-learningprocess, their impact in developing soft skills and benefits to students. This paper presents the findings of the above study.The paper also puts forward some suggestions for making above initiatives more effective for developing students fullyequipped with relevant soft skills.
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Masters of business administration (MBA) programs are being met with escalating criticism from academics, students, and various organizational stakeholders. Central to these criticisms is the contention that the MBA is wholly out-of-touch with the "real world" and is irrelevant to the needs of practicing managers. Examining this contention, we investigated the relevancy of MBA curricula in relation to managerial competency requirements. Relying on an empirically derived competency model from 8,633 incumbent managers across 52 managerial occupations, our results showed that behavioral competencies indicated by managers to be most critical are the very competencies least represented in required MBA curricula. Findings further indicate that institutional factors such as media rankings and mission orientation have no effect on the alignment of MBA curricula with critical managerial competencies.
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Business recruiters generally report seeking to hire well-rounded students who have not only technical knowledge and skills, but also behavioral ones. However, business students appear to be somewhat skeptical of this claim. One reason for this skepticism may be students' attention to recruiter signals concerning the importance of behavioral knowledge and skills during the recruitment and selection process. In an attempt to determine whether the addition of significant behavioral coursework to a student's portfolio enhances recruiters' assessments of student employability, we conducted two studies using different methodologies. Results showed that when asked directly about their preferences (Study I), a clear majority of recruiters (78%) indicated that they preferred business graduates who supplemented functional-area (e.g.. finance, accounting) coursework with equivalent amounts of behavioral coursework. However, when evaluating specific student resumes (Study 2). recruiters gave the same employability ratings to students who took only functional courses as to those who focused both on functional and behavioral courses. Our results are discussed in the context of growing evidence that behavioral science is regarded as a marginal topic both in business and in business education.
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Background: Soft skills describe career attributes that individuals should possess, such as team skills, communication skills, ethics, time-management skills, and an appreciation for diversity. In the twenty-first century workforce, soft skills are important in every business sector. However, employers in business continuously report that new employees are deficient in these soft skills. The literature suggests that more research is needed in the area of soft skills, to explore improved instructional methodologies that may be applied by business educators. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine Alabama business educators' perceptions of the importance of soft skills for success in the twenty-first century workforce. Method: Alabama business educators were surveyed to assess the importance of specific soft skills and how these skills affect success in the workforce. Results: A significant difference was found between the perceived importance of how specific soft skills affect success in the workforce and the location of school (city, county). Respondents perceived all eleven soft skills included in this study to be very important (M = greater than or equal to 4.95 on a 1-6 scale) to success in the twenty-first century workforce. Conclusions: Alabama business educators consider soft skills to be important components of the business/marketing education curriculum. Alabama business educators' perceptions of the importance of soft skills transcend demographic factors. In addition, a hierarchy exists among Alabama business educators concerning the importance of selected soft skills. Implications: This study provides information that should be utilized by business educators to improve the skills of students entering the workforce. (Contains 6 tables.)
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the separate and combined effects of three individual characteristics on training gains achieved in a leadership development program designed to enhance participants' emotional intelligence (EI). The overall purpose was to test heretofore untested propositions advanced by various theorists concerning the impact of openness to experience (OE), self‐efficacy (SE), and receptivity to feedback (RF) on training outcomes. Design/methodology/approach This empirical study utilized a sample of 135 fully‐employed business students in a treatment/control group research design. Findings The findings suggest that leadership development professionals will likely derive differential EI training gains depending upon participants' status across several variables. Receptivity to feedback was directly associated with EI training gains while the SE‐RF and SE‐OE interactions were predictors of EI training gains. Practical implications The results hold implications for organizations that seek to enhance the EI of leaders both effectively and efficiently. The application of these findings to a range of leadership development practices and to training efforts that focus on other competencies are discussed. Research implications The paper connects EI to one of the major challenges facing leaders and leadership development professionals in the future: managing change and offers recommendations regarding research on other factors that are likely to optimize results achieved through efforts to develop the EI of leaders. Originality/value This is the first study to investigate the impact of these three individual characteristics on training gains achieved. The paper's findings suggest that some individuals are better candidates for EI training and presents a method to identify them.
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As the importance of communication skills for students, regardless of their disciplines, becomes evident, it is important to determine whether colleges provide students with adequate opportunities to acquire such skills. The authors compared information systems (IS) educator and student perceptions of communication skills in IS curricula. Gender, discipline, position and student classification, and school size were among the variables that were examined. Results showed that educators and students agreed that IS curricula had the appropriate emphasis on many of the communication skills. However, the two groups significantly differed on their extent of agreement or disagreement with appropriate level of emphasis and the number of courses that cover such communication skills. Results revealed that educators felt there were a few communication skills, such as proofreading, listening, facilitating meetings, and using interpersonal skills with external customers and management, that needed more emphasis in the IS curriculum. Implications for educators and researchers are reported.
B-schools soft on 'soft skills'. Bollomberg BusinessWeek Online
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