12 Soft Skills Young People Need For Careers In Demand

12 Soft Skills Young People Need For Careers In Demand

Over the past few years, many jobs in traditional work sectors declined. This led to the creation of new jobs to cater to new markets and industries. Hence, workers with soft skills that can adapt to the changing needs in any industry are now catching the interests of employers. 

These are skills which are common to many occupations and various industries. These differ from technical skills such as numeracy and literacy, knowing how to create an app, or having a medical license. Transferable or soft skills work alongside job-specific technical skills and create individuals who are productive members of society while they commit themselves to lifelong learning and development.

Research conducted by Deloitte in 2018 states that these skills have grown in popularity and importance, with some employers stating that, for certain positions, they would choose someone with the right transferable skills over someone who only has technical skills.

Soft skills will allow you to be agile and adaptable in rapidly changing national and international work environments. These skills make you a desirable employee to recruiters and allow you to move between jobs and become a resilient part of the workforce.

Why Do Young People Need Soft Skills?

Nowadays, employers may expect their workers to ‘wear many hats’ in any single position, making a single career with a fixed knowledge base less common and less attractive to recruiters. 

Young people have to develop skills that enable them to be students and workers who are committed to lifelong learning and personal development. Having soft skills means you could have a greater sense of security in the labour market by applying these skills to different jobs across varying sectors. These skills will also increase your chances of finding productive and rewarding work with greater opportunities and benefits.

A 2023 report states that some of the labour developments previously considered to have been causes of job loss are going to be catalysts for positive change in the job market in the next five years. 

As some skills and industries become more important than others, the need for employees with soft skills grows. It suggests that any young person planning to enter the workforce should prepare themself for the future job market with skills that can be used or ‘transferred’ across different industries.

The 2022 UNICEF Global Framework on Transferable Skills simplifies these skills into the 12 most common soft skills that students need to be adaptable in the workforce.

1. Creativity

When most people think of creativity, they primarily consider artists or individuals who have a natural talent for expressing themselves through the arts. However, in the scope of work, creativity more commonly presents itself as an ability to think differently, making it a cognitive skill. 

It is possible to learn creativity at any age or stage of education. Having this skill encourages divergent thinking which involves considering different ideas or solutions to a problem.

This skill can be developed in collaborative and social settings, therefore stimulating other skills such as empathy and understanding of other cultures or individual backgrounds. This makes it a useful tool for developing positive social skills as well.

As a result, having creativity shows an ability to adapt and have flexible responses to daily problems and this can aid in personal empowerment. 

2. Critical Thinking

This is an ability to ask questions, identify assumptions and evaluate facts. It allows the broadening of views and helps in gaining a deeper understanding of what may only be perceived at face value by others. 

Individuals who can think critically can differentiate between opinion and facts. They are also capable of questioning the validity of information through listening, observation and understanding diverse perspectives. When you can think in this way you can synthesise different thoughts and are likely to become a stand-out person in any school, work, or social environment.

In the digital age and with more information available than ever, this skill is growing in importance. It is necessary to know how to separate what is true from what is false as a lot of misinformation is circulated online, without verifiable evidence or from irresponsible sources.

Critical thinking has also been linked to an increased ability to make conscious and balanced decisions as individuals can remain open-minded and curious, desiring to be well-informed and flexible to other viewpoints before concluding. 

In the workplace, this skill increases in complexity presenting itself as the ability to analyse situations and solve problems. This leads to effective job decisions that can improve team and individual performance. 

3. Problem-solving

When someone has problem-solving skills, they can identify a problem, and take logical steps to find the most effective solution, then monitor and evaluate the impact of the solution being put into action.

Most businesses or organisations solve a problem in the market or industry that they are in. Therefore, this skill can be used in almost any industry, position or role. 

At an individual level, it increases one’s sense of empowerment and achievement when action is taken to solve an existing problem. When children face difficulties within the classroom or other social environments, they can face these challenges. As they develop into members of the workforce, they are more likely to assume responsibility for tasks and take initiative to identify and solve problems.

4. Cooperation

The ability to cooperate is an ability to work effectively and respectfully with people or teams. A cooperative individual can work with others to achieve a common goal that goes beyond personal benefit or gain. 

You can see this in classrooms when students work with others without being overly competitive. In a work environment, it means being able to respect the opinions of others, working within a role that is assigned to you, and resolving any conflicts that arise within the team. 

Developing this skill enables you to set goals and build relationships which aid in personal growth. It is closely related to empathy and problem solving making people with this skill more likely to be emotionally intelligent.

5. Negotiation

Negotiatiion is when two or more people communicate to reach an agreement on their interests. This skill shows an ability to be cooperative whilst using respectful and assertive communication.

This skill can be learnt through observation and practice. It extends beyond childhood into work when an individual can show that they can engage in positive and respectful interactions. 

Also, an ability to negotiate and ‘win’ promotes a level of healthy competitiveness that also seeks to help everyone benefit from a situation. It fosters cooperative partnerships and relationships which would help anyone going into a new role to work in new teams or work environments. 

6. Decision-making

We make decisions every day for ourselves, within our family, at school, or work. This is the process of choosing a path of action that is preferred, using specific information and criteria. 

This process does not always have steps that need to be completed in a specific order. Some decisions are made quickly and in an instant using intuition, or without much time to analyse information. Others are made over time using reasoning and critical thinking. So, it is vital to be able to make both kinds of decisions effectively when searching for a job in any industry. 

The ability to make decisions is influenced by past experiences, information, and beliefs amongst other factors. It can be taught and learnt through tasks based on communication, creativity and critical thinking where you identify the pros and cons of taking a course of action or choosing one option over another. 

Therefore, when you can make decisions from an early stage, it creates a higher chance of being able to take risks in the future. This is useful to businesses that might require an employee to participate in a competitive environment. Risk-takers who are also good decision-makers are more likely to come up with new and innovative ideas in the workplace. 

7. Self-management

You can develop your self-management skills by recognising and controlling emotions, feelings and impulses. This skill shows strong self-awareness and improves the ability to connect with others and the quality of these connections.

People with strong self-management skills have better responses to stressful situations. It also exhibits traits such as autonomy, confidence, perseverance and persistence. These indicate that you can get through tasks at hand despite challenges, obstacles and distractions. 

With this skill, you can assess your strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and actively manage life planning. It has been shown to contribute to strong collaborative skills and the maintenance of good relationships with co-workers through respect, empathy, and tolerance.  

8. Resilience 

You can develop your resilience by learning how to navigate adverse situations in daily life whilst regaining emotional balance. It is an ability to actively, consciously, and constructively address problems.

Resilience itself may not lead to academic or work success. However, its traits can help you stay committed to your long-term goals and contribute to overcoming challenges. It is a vital skill that creates an ability to keep momentum where others might give up or be discouraged.

9. Communication

Effective communication (speaking effectively and listening actively to ask questions and respond) requires critical thinking and reasoning. It includes verbal and non-verbal exchanges through different forms of communication. It’s a vital aspect of human development which is important for individual fulfilment and interpersonal relationships.

It was once important to know how to communicate face-to-face but technology advancements have introduced new communication channels. These new methods of communication create a need to evolve communication skills to be applicable in a digital context. 

10. Respect For Diversity

This can be defined as the ability to recognise the uniqueness and differences of each individual. It implies openness to other perspectives and a willingness to perceive others as worthy of respect. This skill or attribute is closely related to equality, tolerance and understanding of individual differences based on various factors.

This skill shows that an individual can test their assumptions and adapt to diverse societies and communities. In the world of work, respect for diversity prevents discriminatory practices and encourages collaboration and productivity in teams.

11. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings without judging them. As a key concept in developmental psychology, it involves other key skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, cooperation and communication.

Empathy is important for building healthy professional relationships as it allows you to recognise and respect others. It is closely related to respect for diversity and adults with empathy skills can provide a safe space for others to express themselves, empathy makes you caring enough to hear and understand others. This promotes social cohesion, collaboration and positive relationships.

12. Participation

This is an action of individual and community empowerment through taking part in and influencing processes, decisions and activities. Moreover, active participation also contributes to higher self-esteem and greater capacity for social interaction. These contribute to healthy school or work environments.

Participation is a critical skill to being a productive member of any environment. Strong communication and critical thinking skills allow you to be able to actively participate with various projects.

Tips For Developing Your Soft Skills

Developing soft skills can and should be a lifelong process. You’ll need to stay up-to-date with developments around the world. This will allow you to know what skills will help you across different jobs and how you can develop them. 

You should also be thinking about the career or job you are aiming for and the technical skills that might be the most applicable in that job, but you should still keep in mind other transferable skills that might give you a competitive advantage over others.

Then you can assess yourself or ask your friends, family, teachers, and/or mentors to give you an evaluation of which skills they have seen in you and which they think you have potential to develop further. 

The key is to identify the skills you possess and discover where that skill and job intersect. This will allow you to be able to transfer your skills across different jobs or industries. 

Afterwards, you will need to start with work! This could mean getting work experience through a part-time student job or finding out more about apprenticeships.  Additionally, you could also consider participating in extracurriculars that help you develop the skills you need. 

At GT Scholars, we have commitment to help young people become successful in their academic and future careers. Through our Success Academy, you can gain access to online leadership coaching and personal development courses.

If you are between the ages of 11 to 18 years old, contact us today to learn more about the Success Academy and mentoring programmes at GT Scholars.

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