Why Acquiring Soft Skills Needn’t Be Hard image credit - The Government of the Principality of Monaco. Elearning expert Jean-Marc Tassetto outlines how to respond to new data on what skills are important in the workplace – and how one European government is leading the way.

Without a doubt the labour market is set to change in dramatic and far-reaching ways. To refer to the OECD’s ‘The Future Of Work’ report, the magnitude and pace of the transformation will be very profound indeed. Orders of industrial robots have increased threefold in just over a decade and are projected to double again by 2020. In addition the amount of private equity invested in AI (Artificial Intelligence) has doubled in the past year alone.

Workers need to ready themselves for change or get left behind. A process of creative destruction is predicted whereby certain jobs are undertaken by robots or offshored, while new ones are created. As the OECD notes, “14% of existing jobs could disappear as a result of automation in the next 15-20 years, but another 32% are likely to change radically as individual tasks are automated.”

Many of us will have to change not only our jobs, but even our occupations. The vast majority of us will have to modernise skills and working practices. Access to training and to the right sort of training is key. Namely, training that is not too closely linked with my current job role or even current industry, and will prepare us for this change. In particular, it’s accentuating what computers can’t do well that is essential to our future employability.14

What that looks like in practice is developing our ‘soft’, or human, skills. To be precise, soft skills are how we function in the workplace with other humans, navigating change and working with others. Skills such as thinking outside of the box, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills are what candidates now need. This is in contrast to more straightforward technical competencies more reliant on fact-retention.

When it comes to ‘The Rise of the Robots’, it seems that occupations that rely on such soft skills may account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030, according to Deloitte. The Manpower 2018 Talent Shortage Survey underlines how soft skills are gaining greater importance. More than half of employers saying communication skills are their most valued employee attributes, followed by collaboration and problem solving.

The problem is that while soft skills are the key skills we all need to have in order to keep pace with the future of work, the majority of companies lack any set strategy in this area. As a general rule, our work cultures are not equipped to search for, grow or even accommodate these capabilities.

Make training engaging

The critical question is how organisations need to adapt to acquire these increasingly desirable new capabilities? Soft skills are not easily taught in a classroom, first and foremost – so we need to see a radical change in the way training is delivered.

Let’s also not forget acquiring soft skills is hard. The learner of today, Millennials and Gen Y especially, find traditional, workplace PPT-driven instruction or traditional e-learning courses uninspiring.

Indifference and low acceptance of your corporate training content threatens to turn your training budget into a resource-wasting, tick-box exercise. It also makes any attempt to convince your staff you are committed to helping them up-skill and re-skill unpersuasive.

As well as welcoming training courses on creativity, collaboration skills, critical thinking and communication skills, leaders looking to help their employees grow need to start using a new generation of digital tools. These take the form of the Learning Experience Platform (LXP or LEP), which makes training relevant and exciting by putting the learner at the centre of the learning experience.

Think training content that is diverse, easily accessible, mobile, always on, always available, delivered in engaging, short ‘micro’ chunks that fill useful gaps in knowledge. And where appropriate, uses the engagement potential of techniques like gamification, online competitions and learner quizzes, which help create a positive, reinforcing learning experience.

It is becoming essential that workplace training culture uses the latest engagement techniques to make acquiring those soft skills as easy as possible.

Training for all

An example of best practice in this area is from the public sector. The Government of the Principality of Monaco has implemented a new digital training strategy called the Digital Academy. The training is being used to underpin its larger, national-level strategic transformation programme, Extended Monaco – a plan to digitise all of its public sector and economy, announced in June 2019.

Extended Monaco’s aims specifically recognise the importance of soft skills: “In order for our public services to be a model in the digital world, we must help everyone, starting with our people in charge of carrying out our public policies… They must be able to benefit from an ambitious training programme, as there is no better investment than investing in one’s teams and their training. With the Digital Academy, we’re looking at what people will be in the future, and not only for today.”

The aim of the Monaco Digital Academy is, then, genuinely securing learning and development engagement from all 3,600 members of its public sector – from road sweeper up to mandarin. A Learning Experience platform is seen as central to this mission. It’s not only about opening up training to people, it is also seen as a way to show everyone will have a role to play and everyone is part of Monaco’s joint future. It’s also about furnishing learners with the skills to safeguard their own future employability, giving them the commercial and digital nous to be fully productive and useful members of society.

We need to invest in developing our essentially human, soft skills. Acquiring soft skills is hard, but very important. So why not use the tools available to make it as easy as possible and help us prepare for our changing working lives?

coorpacademy logo

Coorpacademy disrupts Corporate Digital Learning with a Learning Experience Platform (LEP) used by global brands including Adidas, Capgemini Consulting, Engie, Faurecia, Schneider Electric, Société Générale and Tag Heuer.

Its cutting-edge SaaS-based solutions include the latest innovations in instructional design, including gamification, micro-learning, adaptive and social learning, so as to convert any content into an engaging learning experience, fully adapted to learner needs. With a content library of more than 700 courses, produced with top industry experts like IBM and Wolters Kluwer, the Coorpacademy LEP develops employee digital and soft skills, as well as boosting engagement and employability.

The platform supports 19 different languages and supports a community of 700,000 corporate learners worldwide.

Founded in 2013, the company is based at the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)’s Lausanne campus, with offices in Paris and London. Learn more at www.coorpacademy.com


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here