Employability Enhancement and the Role of Soft Skills Training

Employability Enhancement and the Role of Soft Skills Training

Debarshi Ghosh (Meghnad Saha Institute of Technology, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2041-2.ch014
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Abstract

Soft skills help to enhance the ability of individuals to efficiently work in a global business environment and ensure effective use of domain knowledge in actual practice. To improve the employability of job-seekers, soft skills have a crucial role to play. However, the importance of soft skills has always been sidelined in the Indian context for the need of other core technical skills. This paper highlights the importance of soft skills in the present environment, focuses on bottlenecks faced by soft skills training, and also suggests some guidelines by analyzing the past research papers, reports, surveys and government programmes on issues related to employability and soft skills.
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Introduction

Employers and academicians widely acknowledge about the existing gap in soft skill training and requirement. A widening gap is noticed between the expectation of the companies during recruitment drives and the performance of the job applicants in the area of soft skills. A recently published The India Skills Report (2014) prepared by CII, People Strong and Wheebox highlighted the urgent need to focus on the right skills for our youth to add to the economic growth of India. The report was based on a survey of 1,800 educational campuses and 100 companies across 10 industry sectors including automobiles, manufacturing, and telecom. An online assessment of one lakh students on various skills has found that only 34% were employable. The corporate job survey questioned the employers, across the industries, about the single most important thing they want in their prospective employees. The employers responded by giving their maximum votes to “Integrity and Values” which was followed by “Result Orientation”. The seven skills according to their importance as perceived by the employers are as follows:

  • 1.

    Integrity and Values (30%).

  • 2.

    Result Orientation (21%).

  • 3.

    Core Domain Knowledge (14%).

  • 4.

    Better Aptitude (12%).

  • 5.

    Cultural Fitment (10%).

  • 6.

    Teamwork and Customer Orientation (7%).

  • 7.

    English Communication Skills (6%).

From the above list, we can safely say that, with the exception of “Core Domain Knowledge”, all the above mentioned skills can be termed as Soft skills. This finding can be an eye-opener for a huge number of engineering and other graduates produced every year from numerous institutes across the country.

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Understanding Soft Skills

To understand soft skills we first need to differentiate between hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills can be defined as a set of skills which develop due to academic and technical knowledge. According to Martin Carole (2008), hard skills are “along the lines of what might appear on your resume” and soft skills can be defined as a “cluster of personality traits, social graces, personal habits, friendliness and optimism.”

Technical and academic skills are easier to evaluate, observe and relatively more tangible because of the presence of examination system focusing on laboratory and classroom studies. However, soft skills are difficult to define, observe and evaluate and can be classified as intangibles. Such skills involve items which reflect positive behavioural and emotional disposition. According to Hewitt Sean (2008) soft skills are “non-technical, intangible, personality specific skills” which determines an individual's strength as “a leader, listener and negotiator, or as a conflict mediator”. Some of the commonly acknowledged soft skills include communication skills, good attitude, body language, etiquettes, presentation skills, cultural awareness, commitment, honesty, reliability, ethical approach and team working skills. Broadly soft skills can be defined as a group of abilities which are non-technical but professional in nature.

Andreas Blom and Hiroshi Saeki (2011), after classifying all skills by factor analysis, found that employers for newly graduated engineers in India perceive Soft Skills (Core Employability Skills and Communication Skills) to be highly important.

The Core Employability Skills with high factor loading are as follows:

  • 1.

    Integrity.

  • 2.

    Self-discipline.

  • 3.

    Reliability.

  • 4.

    Self-motivated.

  • 5.

    Entrepreneurship skills.

  • 6.

    Teamwork.

  • 7.

    Understands and takes directions for work assignments.

  • 8.

    Willingness to learn.

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