As the world continues to evolve, our workplaces and professional environments are constantly being reshaped. A driving force behind these changes is the increasing value of certain skills within our industries – not just specialized, hard skills, but soft, transferable skills as well. This trend has led us to recognize that soft transferable skills are not only crucial but also tremendously valuable in all aspects of our professional lives.
Drawing on our experience, let’s delve into the complex world of these skills, unearthing their significance, identifying common types, and providing strategies for their development.
What are Soft Transferable Skills?
To understand soft transferable skills, it’s essential to distinguish between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. Hard skills are often referred to as technical or job-specific skills that can be learned and improved over time, like coding, graphic design, or financial analysis. On the other hand, soft skills are interpersonal attributes, qualities, and behaviors that help us interact effectively and harmoniously with others (Robles, 2012).
Soft transferable skills, also known as ‘portable skills,’ encompass a set of competencies that are applicable across various job roles and industries. They are not tied to a specific job but are universally valued in the professional world. Regardless of your career path or position, these skills can contribute significantly to your professional success.
The Importance of Soft Transferable Skills
The modern workforce’s dynamism and the advent of AI and automation have underscored the importance of soft skills even more. A study by Deloitte Access Economics (2017) predicted that by 2030, two-thirds of all jobs in Australia will be strongly reliant on soft skills. Similarly, LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report mentioned that leadership, management, and emotional intelligence – all of which are soft skills – would be in high demand in the coming years.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report (2020) also highlighted that problem-solving, critical thinking, self-management, working with people, and technology use and development are among the top skills that will increase in importance in the 2025 horizon.
These studies make it abundantly clear that soft transferable skills are not just ‘nice-to-have’ – they are critical for career progression and success. They also emphasize that while technical skills may get you the job, soft skills can make you excel in it and pave the way for advancement.
Key Soft Transferable Skills
There is a multitude of soft transferable skills, but some are more universally sought-after than others. Below, we will examine some of the most important ones:
- Communication: Communication is not just about articulating your thoughts and ideas effectively but also about listening actively, empathizing with others, and conveying information clearly and concisely. The importance of good communication skills cannot be overstated in any professional setting (Hynes, 2012).
- Teamwork: Teamwork is about collaborating effectively with others, appreciating diversity, being able to compromise, and having a sense of shared responsibility. The Harvard Business Review reported that ‘time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 percent or more’ over the last two decades (Cross et al., 2016).
- Problem-Solving: This skill involves identifying a problem, coming up with creative solutions, making decisions, and implementing these solutions. It also involves resilience and the ability to learn from mistakes. According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report, problem-solving is one of the most in-demand skills.
- Adaptability: In an ever-changing professional landscape, the ability to adapt to new situations, learn new skills, and be open to change is indispensable. A 2019 Forbes article noted that adaptability is one of the key skills employers seek in today’s job market.
- Leadership: Leadership is about inspiring and motivating others, taking the initiative, making decisions, and taking responsibility. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be in a management position to demonstrate leadership. According to a study in the Journal of Business and Psychology, leadership skills can be displayed at any level of an organization (Caruso et al., 2018).
Developing Soft Transferable Skills
One of the most promising aspects of soft skills is that they can be learned and improved over time, just like hard skills. However, the process may require a more reflective and introspective approach.
- Self-awareness: Start by identifying your strengths and areas for improvement. You can ask for feedback from colleagues, supervisors, or mentors, or you could use self-assessment tools available online.
- Learning from others: Look for role models in your professional network who excel in certain soft skills and observe their behaviors and attitudes. This could provide valuable insights and learning opportunities.
- Practice and reflection: Like any skill, practice makes perfect. Regularly find opportunities to practice these skills, reflect on your performance, and adjust your approach accordingly. This could be as simple as taking on a leadership role in a team project or actively seeking out challenging tasks that require problem-solving skills.
- Training and education: There are countless courses and workshops, both online and offline, that can help you develop specific soft skills. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer numerous resources in this regard.
Due to our practical knowledge, we understand that skill development is a lifelong journey that requires continuous effort and commitment. There will be challenges and hurdles along the way, but the rewards – enhanced career prospects, job satisfaction, and personal growth – make the journey worth it.
Conclusion on soft transferable skills
The importance of soft transferable skills in today’s workforce cannot be overstated. As industries continue to evolve and workplaces become more dynamic and collaborative, these skills will only grow in value. They are not just the ‘icing on the cake’ – they are fundamental ingredients to professional success.
By developing your soft transferable skills, you’re investing in yourself and your future. It’s an investment that will pay dividends throughout your career and beyond. After all, these skills are not just about making you a better professional – they’re about making you a better person, too.
- Robles, M. M. (2012). Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in Today’s Workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 453-465.
- Deloitte Access Economics. (2017). Soft skills for business success. Deloitte.
- LinkedIn. (2020). Workplace Learning Report 2020. LinkedIn.
- World Economic Forum. (2020). The Future of Jobs Report 2020. World Economic Forum.
- Hynes, G. E. (2012). Improving Employees’ Interpersonal Communication Competencies: A Qualitative Study. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 466-475.
- Cross, R., Rebele, R., & Grant, A. (2016). Collaborative Overload. Harvard Business Review.
- LinkedIn. (2019). Global Talent Trends 2019. LinkedIn.
- Forbes. (2019). The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020. Forbes.
- Caruso, D. R., Boyatzis, R. E., & Kavanagh, M. J. (2018). Emotional and social intelligence competencies: cross cultural implications. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management.