While recently discussing work preparation with a group of
business and education leaders, the comment was made, "Companies need graduates
who are prepared in the soft skills."
Now what are the soft skills? According
to Wikipedia, "soft skills is a term associated with a person's EQ (emotional
intelligence)… the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication,
language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize
relationships with other people. Soft skills complement hard skills which are
the occupational requirements of a job…"
Well, it sounds like Wikipedia needs
to be updated since perhaps both hard and soft skills are "occupational
requirements" and let's not forget ethics and attendance. Businesses may most
need honest people who are on the job.
In reality, when employers call me for a reference they don't ask about
the student's grade point average. They want to know about the student's
attendance, behavior, and relationship with other people. With discussions of
reforming Virginia's K-12 accountability system, let's not forget that a highly
skilled but frequently absent and dishonest employee has both real and
While a principal, a student on her way to Harvard said,
"Suppose I get a degree from Harvard and can't do anything?" Perhaps high
schools and colleges should look at their curricula and ask not only what their
students will be able to do… but more importantly, who they will be.