Empowering the Future Workforce: Reflections on Cohort 1 Graduation for Mastering 21st Century Soft Skills

Empowering the Future Workforce: Reflections on Cohort 1 Graduation for Mastering 21st Century Soft Skills

Amanda | 7 months ago

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Amanda Mwatu, a final year law student at Riara University and I will briefly take you through the importance of soft skills and the experience we had undertaking this much needed course. 

Soft skills refer to both character traits and interpersonal skills that will influence how well a person can work or interact with others. The term soft skills covers a wide range of skills as diverse as teamwork, time management, empathy and delegation.

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report suggested that by 2025, complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management and emotional intelligence would be among the most important skills required in the workplace.

The importance of these soft skills is often undervalued, and there is far less training provided for them than hard skills such as coding. Organizations seem to expect people know how to behave on the job and the importance of skills such as taking initiative, communicating effectively and listening, which often is not the case.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how well you can work or interact with others. These skills make it easier to form relationships with people, create trust and dependability, and lead teams.

In essence, they are essential for your success in the workplace, your company’s success and your personal life.

Why are soft skills important?

Most interactions with other people require some level of soft skills. At a company you might be negotiating to win a new contract, presenting your new idea to colleagues, networking for a new job, and so on. We use soft skills everyday at work and developing these soft skills will help you win more business and accelerate our career progression.

On the other hand, a lack of soft skills can limit your potential, or even be the downfall of your business. By developing strong leadership, delegation, teamwork, and communication abilities, you can run projects more smoothly, deliver results that please everyone, and even positively influence your personal life by improving how you interact with others.

Outside of the office, soft skills such as communication are used to build friendship groups and meet potential partners. You might be negotiating the price of your new house renovation, or mentoring your neighbours children on the weekend. Soft skills are useful both in our professional and personal lives.

Let’s have a look at some specific examples supporting the importance of soft skills from the ELSAT course.

  1. Personal management

Personal management or self-management skills involve your ability to control your feelings, thoughts and actions. With this skill, you can set independent goals and take action to realize them. In the long run, personal management skills help direct your career trajectory. Personal management involves the physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual-personality strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Interpersonal management skills (living well with others)

The need to identify key interpersonal relationship skills for effective interactions and connections with others. Gained an appreciation on the importance of communication, negotiation, assertiveness and peaceful conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships. And all these will be enhanced through effective communication skills.

  1. Making effective decisions and choice

Where we learnt the 7 steps to effective decision making. Identify the decision (challenge). Gather relevant information. Weigh the evidence. Choose among alternatives. Take action. Review your decision and its consequences. 

  1. Managing my health

We are now able to demonstrate an understanding of the dimensions of health- physical, social, financial, emotional, spiritual. Put into practice strategies for personal self-care. Prevent and manage drug abuse and addiction as well as handle issues of gender -based violence.

  1. Leadership 

The course has enabled us to identify who a leader is. The characteristics of a good leader, understand the responsibilities of an effective leader, how a leader can maintain an efficient, effective, and motivated team.

  1. Citizenship

We went through the basics of the constitution of Kenya and the importance of giving back to the community. Learnt when and how to execute your rights and responsibilities as a citizen in Kenya by using the appropriate government structures.

  1. Understanding the world of work

We learnt the importance of exercising personal discipline in the workplace. 

  1. Financial literacy

This is about acquiring knowledge and skills needed to manage money effectively. Helps people to budget, plan, save and invest their money which therefore reduces financial distress and broken relationships. Good financial management is important. The source of one’s money is as important as how they use it.

The most in-demand soft skills from LinkedIn research are:

  • Communication

  • Organisation

  • Teamwork

  • Critical thinking

  • Social skills

  • Creativity

  • Interpersonal communication

  • Adaptability

The part that was both most enjoyable and challenging was learning about financial literacy. Having a budget and sticking to it is part of having good soft skills that forms part of our personal development and personal management. Long gone are the days where we would eagerly await end month-that mpesa message from our sponsors. This skill will definitely help us after university as we navigate the working and business environment. 

To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed the ELSAT 21ST Century soft skills course and it enabled me to put a great deal into perspective which has given me a new confidence in my future career. Soft skills’ is a term usually associated with a person’s EQ which is Emotional Quotient, the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, financial literacy and many others. This course opened my eyes to the importance of standing out and realizing that in order to be successful, you need more than good grades. You need the staying power and soft skills are the staying power that helps you be a very productive and efficient employee or business person. I would highly recommend this course.

I would like to wish all my course mates the very best in their future endeavours. I would like to thank ELSAT for the amazing opportunity and Riara University for making all of this possible. GOD BLESS YOU ALL


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