Re-skilling the workforce for a 21st century economy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

In our second education supplement this year, The Post will be looking at the importance of soft skills for Cambodians, with particular interest paid to how these soft skills are taught and learnt. Soft and hard skills both play very important roles in creating a strong independent, productive member of society.

We will be looking at whether the curriculums in Cambodia provide an adequate way of imparting soft skills to students. We will also be investigating why soft skills are important for the future of Cambodians.

Communication is key for smooth business transactions and negotiations but as the world of business and trade becomes an increasingly international affair, the rules and customs of social and business interactions are bound to change.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Being adept in soft skills as well as the technical aspects and hard skills of one’s job means that an individual can garner the best possible result for both parties. Unfortunately for examiners, soft skills, unlike hard skills, are not measurable.

We cannot test for these skills in a formal environment. Soft skills are very difficult to measure or examine with any real confidence. Rather, they become evident as the personality of a student develops.

Soft skills play an incontrovertible role in shaping an individual’s personality as well as informing resilience, problem solving abilities, lateral thinking, and communication skills.

Students who excel in soft skill acquisition are likely to have knowledge of a second language, increased cultural awareness, they will be team players but will also be able to work alone, they will have an increased level of empathy that makes moderating disagreements a positive and productive process.

The importance of soft skills cannot be under-represented, but this does not mean all soft skills are of equal importance.

One soft skill that is top of mind when it comes to importance is communication. Others include, self-esteem, how to develop one’s self and derive self belief from the process.

Body language, understanding that one’s body language may be saying something very different to the words that are being spoken is key.

Good presentation, discussion skills in terms of presenting an idea in a coherent manner, public speaking, language acquisition, all of these pursuits are integral parts of developing soft skills among Cambodian students.

While it is never too early to begin learning, developing and honing soft skills, it is also never too late. Key to this is an individual’s ability to recognise and acknowledge shortfalls and personal failings.

When an individual can self recognise a deficit, this is the first step to eliminating the shortfalls. That self diagnosis can be the first step towards improving their soft skills. ​