Go beyond grades

Last Updated : 06 January 2010, 12:34 IST
Last Updated : 06 January 2010, 12:34 IST

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Soft skills are primarily personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interaction with others, job performance and career prospects. Soft skills, also called transferable skills, employability skills, generic skills or key skills are not job specific, but are applicable across all jobs at all levels in an industry.

According to an Assocham Business Barometer survey of students, over 89 per cent of students believe that apart from good academic records and work experience, soft skills such as oral and written communication and team work go a long way in helping them achieve professional success.

Recruitment and retention
Hard skills will get you an interview, but you need soft skills to get (and keep) that coveted job. Assocham Secretary-General D S Rawat has two major concerns. The first is to hire good people and the second is to train them. “It is here that soft skills learned by students help them to learn the trade efficiently by using their technical abilities as a part of team, to understand conflict as a means for discussion instead of an angry confrontation and to respect difference as a creative opportunity rather than an obstacle,” explains Rawat.
The degree to which students develop these skills determines how well they can communicate, make presentations, solve problems, function in teams, assess themselves and others, acquire new knowledge and manage stress when they have to cope with change.

What the study says
The Assocham study, based on a survey of 427 students attending graduate and post-graduate courses across 12 universities/colleges/institutes, focused on important skills which students want to develop along with their academic grades to get good jobs.
According to the study, nearly 93 per cent of third year graduates and post graduate students are keen to acquire more soft skills, 58 per cent of those in first and second year are least concerned in developing their employability skills.
From fluency in second language to problem solving to IT skills, students said oral communication, analytical ability, team work, leadership, written communication, presentation skill, decision making and multi tasking are what they need to for a challenging and rewarding career.

Out of the 15 transferable skills identified by the Assocham Research Bureau, as perceived by university students, oral communication emerged as the most preferred soft skill (76 per cent) while written communication came second at 72 per cent and team work came next at 67 per cent.

The Assocham study notes that 63 per cent of students agreed that individual personality plays an important role in acquiring any skill, while 52 per cent felt that soft skills should be learnt on the job instead of at university/college. Further, 48 per cent of students felt that soft skills can be developed during class presentations.
While presentation and time management skills are perceived to be among the most important skills learnt by students, 44 per cent of them say they are not able to master these necessary skills.

On an average, 1.4 crore students get enrolled every year in various graduate and post-graduate courses in India. Employers revealed that it is at entry- level jobs that applicants were found to be deficient in soft skills.
According to the trade body, colleges  need to pay more attention to the development of soft skills. Clearly, being a bookworm and getting high credits won’t do any longer.

Published 06 January 2010, 12:34 IST

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