The Hard Facts Around Empowering Today’s Youth; through soft skills training

Embracing the pace of change

Upon leaving school, college or university, today’s youth are entering a job market that is shifting and changing as fast as technology shifts and changes and as we are all too aware, the pace of change is happening at a faster rate than ever before. 

Today’s job market demands a lot more from the youth who are entering the workforce for the first time and no longer does it suffice for young adults to possess only a technical qualification when entering the workplace.  Nowadays, employers are looking for a different type of commitment from the individual, over and above technical competencies.  The new world of work requires that to be successful young people need to develop another type of skill set altogether to aid them along.  This skill set is commonly referred to as soft skills.  Providing the youth with soft skills training goes a long way towards bridging the gap between completing school, college or university and coping with the demands of the modern world of work.

Shifting trends – women in the workplace

Over and above the idea that one needs the intangible set of skills known as soft skills to succeed in the modern workplace, there are other factors involved that have led to the emergence of shifting trends of major significance.  For example, we can say that the time frame from about the past 50 years onward has seen more women entering the workforce in technical positions as well as positions of power.  Hence, the job market is not only affected by shifting technologies but also by cultural shifts.  Even in the Western world, as recent as only 40 years ago, women were still being typecast into job roles such as nurses, secretaries, hairdressers and teachers.  It was unheard of in the latter part of the 20th Century for a woman to be the head honcho of a major corporation.  In fact, in the 1950s and 1960s most women were far from being actively involved in the workforce in favour of their male counterparts.  It was quite normal in those days for a girl to leave school with a senior certificate, and while having obtained a university pass, not ever make it to university because ‘other expectations’ were held of her such as getting married, having children and becoming a home maker while her husband went out to work. 

Shifting trends – the ‘house husband’

The changing trends of the workplace have seen the roles of women changing in that there are now more women who head up multi-national corporations while their husbands are at home during the day looking after the children.  More men are taking on the role of ‘house husband’.  In the 1950s and 1960s and even as recently as the 1970s, it would have been completely unheard of for a woman to be the main breadwinner of the household while her husband tackled the tasks of house cleaning, cooking and looking after the children.  This is mainly due to historical cultural influences the world over leaning towards a more patriarchal society.  Nowadays, there is an emerging trend that sees more men in domestic roles than ever before. 

Soft skills training bridges the gap between school, college or university and the workplace

Global trends reveal that the use of technology is rapidly changing the nature of work on a global scale.  This means that now more than ever when young people leave school, college or university to enter the job market there is a dire need to provide them with the soft skills required to prepare them to enter the workplace.  Soft skills are the intangible attitudes, behaviours, personality traits and individual qualities that empower individuals to achieve their goals and objectives in working effectively with others. 

In the current job climate awareness around the need for soft skills training is growing rapidly.  Employers are beginning to recognise the value of soft skills in enhancing productivity and providing young people with a broader scope of competencies.  Developing soft skills in young people should be carried out in tandem with their technical skills development, hence, the two are not mutually exclusive as both skill sets serve to move individuals and business forward.

What employers are demanding from the youth in the current job climate is that the youth demonstrate that they are flexible, proactive, creative and are willing to collaborate. 

What are soft skills?

Soft skills can be defined as the set of skills, behaviours, attitudes, personal attributes and type of mindset that can be used by individuals to succeed in everyday situations both in business and in one’s personal life. 

In-depth analysis has found that soft skills development among the youth should be geared towards the following skill sets:

While this list is by no means exhaustive and while there are numerous other skills that fall under the soft skills umbrella, there is evidence to support the fact that developing these particular skills will lead to more positive employment outcomes.  Acquiring the right soft skills also goes a long way towards helping young adults to healthily mature and more effectively take on roles with greater responsibility as they grow in their chosen careers.

Helen Fenton, Senior Analyst:  Business Optimization Training Institute (BOTi)

Reference source:

  1. What Works in Soft Skills Development for Youth Employment? A Donors’ Perspective

Business Optimization Training Institute (BOTI) is a Johannesburg based, Level 1 BBBEE business.  As a Services and MICT SETA accredited company, we have trained thousands of individuals from over 650 companies and our extensive course offering consists of Short Courses, Soft Skills Training and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Learnership Programs.  In addition, we offer bespoke training programs designed to cater to specific business needs.  Our training courses are focused on knowledge and skills transfer and we pride ourselves in being able to provide training anytime, anywhere across South Africa.