What do you think the balance between hard and soft skill training should be?

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Ernest J Wilson lll on May 12, 2019 • 2 answer
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Find out more and give your opinions on my Forum Network article, "Putting Hard Edges on Soft Skills: The future(s) of artificial intelligence and skills in the emerging digital economy": https://www.oecd-forum.org/users/254287-ernest-j-wilson-lll/posts/48402-putting-hard-edges-on-soft-skills-the-future-s-of-artificial-intelligence-and-skills-in-the-emerging-digital-economy

Answers

Soft skill is such a wide descriptive. Nevertheless, I am 62 and the first element that comes to mind is that soft skill training was part of my schooling up to the 11th class (philosophy, argumentative rhetoric, communication {listening}, ethic, etc.), then they were gone for all following years up until now. I do not think that soft skills can be reintegrated in the system the way I was taught: that is as separate elements. However, they must be reintegrated as part of the hard skills curriculum if we are to be able to manage our globalizing, diversifying world. Without them, it is so easy to sway us into the 'isms' that we are now experiencing worldwide (populism (Ex. extremism), sexism, generationalism, nationalism (Ex. "we first"), etc. Without them, we loose our humanity and become focused on power, material/things ($), and entertainment, all laced under the modern disease called entitlement. The answer to the question is not how much of each but if at all. By reintegrating soft skills into a curriculum it will take its place as needed. We do have to develop them and give them a space to grow wherever we teach hard skills. Yes wherever, the same way you need water whatever you do. The alternative is indefinitely more costly.

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Jacques Drolet on May 12, 2019
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I have always two difficulties when seeing that kind of question.
1 - Which soft skills are we talking about? From the ability to have a sound judgment (philosophical approach) to the ability to interact humanly with others (human relationship approach), all these, and many in between, are soft skills. But the ways to acquire them are extremely different. The notion of balance is then irrelevant.
2 By putting too much accent on soft skills, don't we sometimes run the risk of forgetting how crucially important hard skills are in any trade ? As a consultant, I see so many companies who, by training people on soft skills, and sometimes rewarding them for those soft skills, forget to reward them for their hard skills and to recognize how hard skills remain the core of individual developments and what makes them different from others. Don't misunderstand me, I am a fan of soft skills development but I am also a fan of hard skills recognition, development and adaptation.
To take a very mundane experience, a nurse needs to have hard and soft skills. But the nicest, the most human nurse, needs to be first of all competent on her hard skills and we have to help her develop her skills on both fronts. The hard skills are her future, the soft skills are just a differentiating factor with other equally competent nurses.

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dominique turcq on May 12, 2019
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