Soft Skills: In Demand, But Hard to Find
From the most technical fields to the most creative, employers are increasingly seeking people who possess a common set of skills. Abilities like communication, presentation, creative thinking and problem solving are called soft skills, but they can be hard to develop through highly technical training, and are increasingly hard to find in the workplace, according to a 2016 report by PayScale, a compensation research company. The report, conducted in partnership with Future Workplace, found that only half of hiring managers believe recent graduates are equipped to contribute immediately in the workplace. The study found new graduates to be well-versed in hard skills like coding and search engine optimization (SEO) marketing, but deficient in writing skills, attention to detail, problem solving and critical thinking, all of which are required almost immediately in a professional environment.
Psychology Degrees May Fill the Gap
Some degree programs, like psychology, can provide valuable soft skills and equip students to combat this trend and thrive in the workplace.
“From a general academic perspective,” Maria Lavooy, Florida Tech Assistant Professor and Applied Psychology Online Program Chair notes, “students gain the critical-thinking, the problem-solving, and the oral, writing and interpersonal communication skills required to be successful employees in today’s market.”
This diverse set of skills is inherent through the sheer skill diversity required by the discipline. Soft skills gained from a psychology degree include:
- Writing proficiency: Psychology requires students to create in-depth research reports and shorter summaries, arming students with skills to write well in both longer forms and shorter forms, valuable in business as well as scientific fields.
- Numeric proficiency: Psychology students must not only understand statistical approaches to datasets, but they must apply critical thinking to analyze them.
- Research skills: Students are taught different quantitative and qualitative research techniques, so they understand how to find answers through research.
- Presentation skills: Research is compiled, analyzed and presented both through written reports and verbal presentations.
- Interpersonal awareness: The psychology field fosters acute awareness of other people’s feelings and needs, which contributes outside the discipline through teamwork, leadership and conflict resolution.
- Critical thinking: The psychology field is rife with multiple perspectives on human behavior, and students must learn to assess them and critically compare and contrast evidence. Synthesizing numerous perspectives to obtain a reasoned perspective provides value agnostic of any one discipline.
- Self-management: Independent research and preparing presentation require students to become disciplined time managers.
- Teamwork: The study of psychology also requires group work and seminars, which translates into an ability to work well with others and to navigate challenging personal dynamics.
- Flexibility: Students explore different perspectives and approaches and adapt to findings throughout the process.
Even if psychology as a clinical discipline isn’t the final objective, achieving a psychology degree equips students to combat the growing soft skills gap and enter the workforce primed to contribute.