Soft Skills


As a colleague and I were discussing the Common Core standards, I read the Mission Statement again, and I kept coming back to this sentence in the statement: “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

Even though the Common Core focus is on academic skills, there are a set of skills that are not being addressed in the classroom, which are “soft skills” or workforce readiness skills that are essential for workplace success.

The United States Department of Labor lists six “Soft Skills”, which are:

Soft Skill #1: Communication

Communications provide information to others, but also help them consider how others may prefer to receive information. It is important to reinforce that communication skills involve give and take — and they can, indeed, be learned and strengthened over time.

Soft Skill #2: Enthusiasm & Attitude

 Individuals should know the importance of enthusiasm and a positive attitude in the workplace and they need strategies for turning negative thinking into positive thinking and displaying and discussing enthusiasm during an interview and on the job.

Soft Skill #3: Teamwork

The activities in this section seek to teach participants about Employers want future employees to know the importance of teamwork to workplace success and the specific role each individual on a team may play and how their own conduct can impact others on a team.

Soft Skill #4: Networking

Networking and its relevance and importance to career development is about taking initiative and overcoming fear, informational interviewing, as well as potential guidelines to consider when using social networks, texting, and email for networking purposes.

Soft Skill #5: Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

Individuals should be able to tell the difference among criticism, praise, and feedback and reacting appropriately and they should have strategies for making ethical decisions, solving problems on a team with others, and learning how to take into account others’ perceptions when assessing actions or statements in the workplace.

Soft Skill #6: Professionalism

 Professionalism focuses on each of the five individual soft skills (communication, enthusiasm/attitude, teamwork, networking, and problem solving/critical thinking), but in a broader framework. This is because professionalism is not one skill, but the blending and integration of a variety of skills.

Both academic and soft skills are essential for Workplace Success.  However, due to our fast paced world, soft skills are rarely taught at home and time constraints at school make it nearly impossible to implement curriculum in the classroom. Perhaps “soft skills” should be offered as an elective in high school.



Manuel Chavez

Manuel Chavez

San Manuel, AZ

My name is Manuel Michael Chavez Jr. My greatest contribution to education is being able to relate my 20 years of work experience to my students, which I obtained while working for Magma/BHP Copper, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. My intentions had been to work for Magma Copper Company for the summer and return to school the following fall to pursue my dream of becoming an educator. Twenty years later, I was still employed with Magma Copper and had held various underground mining positions with the last position being a heavy equipment mechanic. In 1999, the mine announced complete closure and I had been forced and given a second opportunity to pursue my dream. What a bittersweet life-changing event in my life. I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from NAU and have been teaching for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District in Southwest Arizona for nine years and am pursuing National Board Certification. In 2009, I was selected as an Ambassador for Excellence for the Arizona Educational Foundation and currently sit on the Board of Directors for Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization. It is my belief that by intertwining my classroom lessons with my own life experiences and providing my students real world life scenarios, students become engaged in the lessons and develop a desire to learn.

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