The Soft Skill shortage – the Mind takes center stage.

Traditional jobs like managers, architects, designers, and analysts are now evolving into 'super jobs,' according to Deloitte (2019). Super jobs are in high demand, with the fastest wage acceleration in the market.

Super jobs are hybrid. They blend technical skills with 'soft skills.' Super jobs have many more layers of additional skills required on top of traditional technical skills. Soft skills are not easily taught.

The soft skills are cognitive, typically found in high-performing individuals that are in short supply.

Our global population is 7.8 billion, yet we have a shortage of skills, and this is expected to worsen into the future.

Rainer Strack from BCG explains the situation from a supply and demand perspective (change of demographics – aging population). He points out that for skilled, educated workers, the statistics are even worse.

Worldwide Labor Shortage & Surplus

The Global Workforce Crisis. The Boston Consulting Group.

The demographics situation is not the full picture. Associated with this skill shortage is the notion that the 'robot' is going to take over. Ray Kurzweil predicts that AI will surpass human intelligence – he refers to the Technological Singularity. This scenario has created anxiety around the future of work. People fear a robot will take over their jobs, their wages will stagnate, and unemployment will increase.

AI and machine learning (ML) will change the nature of work. It has already started, and the rate of change will increase with advances in technology.

Forbes (and others) has published lists of jobs that will disappear and jobs that will be impacted less by technology. However, we can safely say that advances in technology will affect all jobs in the future.

The jobs that will be impacted by AI, will depend on how much routine is involved in carrying out the job. On the other hand, jobs that require social intelligence, creativity, and critical skills will be in high demand. Individuals who have a high-Performance mindset are already in demand, and the trend will increase.

The Mind takes Centre Stage.

With all these changes, the nature of work will evolve. Technology will place great demand on humans and the jobs they do. The mundane/routine aspects of work will be carried out by technology – we will be left to do the 'stuff' that 'the machine' cannot do. The intangible, abstract stuff. The non-technical components of work. The skills that are less specialized, less rooted in specific vocation (qualifications), and more aligned with 'soft skills'.

Can Soft Skills be Learned?

Soft skills are not technical. For that reason, they are precious and highly valuable.

When the nature of work changes from being technical to more holistic, those skills will be highly prized. The shift will become a balancing act of understanding, sense-making, creating meaning, and negotiating a solution, on top of technical knowledge.

To identify what some of the soft skills are, hiring managers and recruiters were asked to list the essential attributes of top performers:

  1. Problem-solving
  2. Well-developed communication skills
  3. Adaptability/Flexibility
  4. Listening
  5. Leadership
  6. Integrity
  7. Creativity
  8. Teamwork
  9. Dependability
  10. Conflict resolution
  11. Research
  12. Work ethic
  13. Critical thinking
  14. Open-mindedness
  15. Willingness to learn

Soft skills are personal habits and traits that shape how individuals work alone and with other people.

How to acquire these skills?

Lifelong learning is critical, and people with high emotional intelligence are well-positioned to become high performers.

The starting point is developing a learning mindset.

Self-reflection, resilience and agility.

Sandra Kelly (UK director for People 1st International) says:
"Resilience, agility, and cultural Intelligence have become increasingly important as survival skills in business ... They are what set you apart and how you manage yourself, and others, in an ever-changing workplace. The awareness of these skills has risen with the emergence of a more emotionally aware and intuitive workforce with a higher level of compassion and care for others. As a result, the mindset of management is changing, and more value is being placed on these skills."

People cannot be ordered to learn 'soft skills'; they can, however, be told what might happen if they ignore their self-development.

Once this reality becomes clear, then it becomes a matter of mindfulness – total awareness of who you are within the environment you are acting in. The individual with drive and self-direction has a strong natural pre-disposition to become a high performer.

Soft skills can be developed by:

  • Practice (actively engagement).
  • Feedback (soft skills development can be slow – requires a change in habit – can be painful).
  • Collaboration. (high performing individuals and teams demonstrate high levels of cooperation—ability to listen, respect).
  • Recognize one's abilities and flaws Adaptability (the ability to take on new challenges – look for improvements, and being proactive).
  • Listening (Not easy in practice. Polite silence does not mean listening is taking place).
  • Emotional intelligence (comes with active coaching).

Why Soft Skills is Important

Apart from ensuring that you are future proof, there is evidence that soft skills are essential and desirable in the workplace today.

Employees with soft skills training are 12% more productive. This is equivalent to 256% ROI for companies.

Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends report (2019) polled nearly 10,000 respondents in 119 countries; 90% rated soft skills as critical for encouraging employee retention, improving leadership, and building a meaningful culture.

Apart from these benefits, businesses find that there is a reduction in costs. There is:

  • less work conflict
  • Employees are more productive
  • Self-confidence improves
  • Dramatic drop in absenteeism
  • Increased performance and quality of work
  • Increased profits.

How to Start

Developing soft skills is not easy—one step at a time.
Cultivating high performance in individuals and teams can easily be achieved with SenseCatcher.

People get to practice their soft skills as individuals and as a team.

The 15 soft skills identified in this post are exercised every time people work on any project inside SenseCatcher. SenseCatcher is a facilitating tool for individuals and teams to become high performers - reaping benefits for themselves and their companies.


Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report 2019 (Deloitte insights).