Why soft skills shouldn’t be excluded from lifelong learning

Being successful in the working environment of the 21st century requires a constant development of skills. Often, people think that only technical skills have to be developed to keep up with change. However, soft skills should definitely not be left behind. Moreover, in times of constant technological development, soft skills are the skills in which people can stand out!

Lifelong learning

Waarom soft skills niet mogen ontbreken in een leven lang leren-1When talking about constant skill development, the conversation is often concerned with the concept of ‘lifelong learning’. The idea of lifelong learning is that people should keep developing themselves to keep up with change, and to do so they should expose themselves to a form of training at every stage in their lives. Within organizations, this concept is used to keep employees’ skills up-to-date, because there is a possibility that theories and skills learned some time ago have become outdated. Lifelong learning can definitely be applied to soft skills as well. Especially since many soft skills can’t be automated and will therefore  only gain importance in the future. While technically every experience adds to lifelong learning, targeted training programs can improve those skills that are important for your organization.

Soft skills for sustainable employability

As an organization you want your employees to be of value in your organization as long as possible. An important part of this is to develop sustainable employability among employees. While the concept of sustainable employability often concerns the physical aspects of work, soft skills can be relevant to it as well. If you want employees to be able to add to the organization as long as possible, it is certainly important that soft skills are up to par. Whether you are a flight attendant or a recruiter, in almost any profession the key to success is good communication. To obtain sustainable employability it is also essential that employees are happy in the organization. Attention for the personal development of employees, in the form of a training program for instance, will contribute to this. Well-trained and motivated employees can function more easily within the organization and in society in general.

From working environment to learning environment

Research by the World Economic Forum predicts that 65% of the children that are attending school now will eventually get a job that doesn't exist yet. To prepare people for future jobs, training is essential, at later age as well. To achieve this, working environments should start functioning as learning environments. To make sure that besides achieving results at this point in time employees are also being prepared for valuable employability in the future, training should become one of the most important points on organizations’ agendas. Since soft skills are multifunctional and can be used for multiple purposes, a training program in soft skills shouldn't be left out. The research from the World Economic Forum even states that skills like persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching will be more in demand than certain technical skills like programming or operating equipment. So soft skills will be on top of the list, in the future as well. Besides that, the researchers expect that the speed of the growing demand for certain skills will only be growing. This means that lifelong learning to anticipate the skills of the future will only grow more important.

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