002. Why Soft Skills Matter

Soft skills are crucial to workplace success, but they’re hard to find. Librii steps up to connect its users with the skills they need. 

Librii’s mission is to provide world-class educational experiences to underserved communities. When discussing education, specifically training that prepares someone for getting ahead in life, the conversation almost automatically focuses on developing mastery over specific skills or tools. Too often we overlook building an individual’s “soft skills,” which often times are equally (or MORE) important that technical skills.

Soft skills can be applied to any work environment. For instance, a person’s soft skill set might include adaptability, time management, conflict resolution, and decision-making. Employers and competitive members of the workforce recognize that this type of skill is essential. The understood importance of soft skills has grown to the point that the US Department of Labor even offers a course in soft skills.

Librii is not alone in its confidence that soft skills matter in the education and work lives of youth. For instance, John Wooden, the UCLA men’s basketball coach earned the title ‘best coach ever’ and won a record 10 NCAA championships by directing his team in personal and philosophical development. His approach, the Pyramid of Success, includes confidence, cooperation, and industriousness, which are, of course, the type of soft skills Librii is intent on emphasizing to its users. 

Industry is increasingly recognizing the value of developing soft skills. Burning Glass Technologies, which analyzes job market data, recently issued the study The Human Factor: The Hard Time Employers have Finding Soft Skills. It details a high demand for soft skills and basic technical skills – known collectively as baseline skills. It finds that an average of one in three skills requested in job postings is a “baseline skill,” and that employers face real soft skill gaps. The following infographic show the gap in soft skills. The report further assesses data by industry and job level to make the case that training in these skills is scarce but extremely valuable.

 

This is where Librii comes in. The Librii team understands that one of its greatest opportunities for impact is the chance to empower its youth by understanding, developing, and honing soft skills. 

The age, aptitude, and interest-based peer groups are an ideal setting for Librii users to develop teamwork and find support for creative thinking. Students will engage in a mixture of collective and individual work. They’ll encounter the same people in the same space each time they come to Librii and will have the opportunity to work together on projects and seek peer feedback. Users are also encouraged to pursue their individual interests and complete projects that are uniquely their own. The system of placing Librii users into cohorts based on age, aptitude, and interest will build a team mentality and give Librii students the skills they need to lead and follow.

Another impact of Librii’s peer-to-peer will be increased support for creative thinking. Librii is an environment of encouragement where people will feel free, rather than forced, to be creative. At Librii, users will undergo the entire process of translating an idea into a finished product – documentary, podcast, poem, music video, story, photograph, essay – and the creative and problem-solving skills they’ll employ are important to any job. 

Research suggests mentors are another powerful tool for developing soft skills. Mentors will model good communication skills and work with their mentees to set and record goals, write plans to tackle projects, and explain ideas to other members of the Librii community. Librii users will be shown communication tools in action, worked with to use the skills themselves, and will ultimately be able to deploy the skill themselves in any setting. 

Librii mentors will also help their mentees develop adaptability. Mentors and mentees will work together as projects progress from the idea stage to full fledged content, and will undoubtedly bounce off roadblocks and undergo transformation along the way. Mentors will model adaptability during the entire creative process by validating and enabling new ideas when they arise and calling for persistence rather than discouragement in the face of challenges. The mentors ‘can do’ attitudes will offer an important and infectious approach to project creation and completion. 

The Librii team knows that providing education includes equipping people with the skills they need in the workplace. By building opportunities for soft skill development into Librii’s very structure, it acknowledges the demand for these skills and takes advantage of the market value of soft skills training. Librii users will become better team members, creative thinkers, communicators, and adapters. In other words, Librii users will become more empowered.  

By: Abby Draper, Librii Reporting Analyst