Articles, Blog

STEM careers: Why soft skills matter | IN 60 SECONDS

October 10, 2019

For over 60 years,
policymakers have pushed training in STEM fields. But even after decades of
investments to increase STEM credentials and degrees, employers continue to say
workers don’t have the skills they need. Research and employer surveys suggest
that many of the missing degrees can be found in non-cognitive or soft skills:
things like the ability to communicate, solve problems, and empathize with others.
While they don’t show up on standardized tests, these soft skills are critical to
life in the workforce. Research shows that investments in
family formation, early childhood development, and job training programs
that integrate technical and soft skills are the keys to expanding economic
opportunity, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Time and again,
we’ve pushed stem training while not achieving the success we expected.
Prioritizing policies that support healthy families and encourage soft
skill development in childhood, adolescence, and among young adults, might
be just the solution we’re looking for. Where do you think soft skills come from,
and how do we get more of them? Let us know in your comments. Also, let us know
what other topics you’d like our scholars to cover in 60 seconds, and be
sure to LIKE and subscribe for more research and videos from AEI.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply BaresarkSlayne December 6, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    You can be technically skilled as anyone, but if you can't get through a work interview it's useless. You need both skill sets in order to achieve, but our society has placed a premium on one set while neglecting the development of the other. I got a job almost 7 years ago that I was not technically suited for. I had the experience in the field but it was kind of outside what I had ever done and the job was requiring a few years specifically in the field in question. My buddy who worked at the company helped me update my resume and put it into the hands of the head of the department. Because my friend is so good at his job and so well liked he essentially got me the interview. But he could not get me that job. I had to do get through the interview on my own. And I did, I aced that interview. By that afternoon they were offering me a position. It was because I had good communication skills, I could think on my feet, and when I didn't have an exact answer for them I confidently said, "I have not done that before, but give me a week and I'll have it figured out". for the next 5.5 years I was the best they had because of those soft skills, not because I had the hard skills involved in the process. They felt good about me as an employee and they put me in front of other people, which then allowed me to successfully move jobs to another role that was technically unrelated to what I had been doing but paid 30% more. You have to have hard skills, I would never say you didn't need those because it's pointless if you can talk your way into a position you are incapable of doing. But my success is based on my problem solving and communication skills.

  • Reply 2LegHumanist December 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    You know what? I'm sick to death of working with people who lack any real technical skill, technical interest or ability to focus hard and solve problems. There are too many extroverted parasites in our industry, propped up by this constant banging on about the need for soft skills.

    They're the empty vessels in the room. The loud ones who impress non-technical managers and take credit for the work of the technically minded people who get everything done.

    The industry needs more managers who are skilled at identifying the people who do the work and those who are just talk. Those with the attention span of goldfish and those capable of giving focused attention to the problem at hand.

    Soft skills are nice, but hard skills are essential.

  • Reply Brian December 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Do you think there is truly a lack of those soft skills in young people today or that there is a lack of proof in those skills on their resumes? People these days are in such deep rutted tracks from high school to college to the job market, all following one another trying to outcompete, but who is out there volunteering to build their resume's soft skill section when we have homework to do and a paper to write? I think, on average, people out there have those skills today.

  • Reply Loathomar December 6, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    "Soft Skills" is a term that is generally only discussed in STEM fields because most other people have them. College really need to add just one or two classes in a STEM degree that would go over the basics of soft skills, but they are so focus on the hard skills, that there is often no room for these critical skill.
    But the problem with this video is that is suggests we need less people in stem and more people with soft skills, that is not a problem at all. This is a massive number of people how have great soft skills, but have a complete and total lack of any useful "hard skills". Being able to effectively communicant and act well in an office is utterly useless if you have no skill to do anything in said office. And we still have a MASSIVE lack of people with the STEM skills needed for a modern economy.

  • Reply Mehran Amini Tehrani December 8, 2018 at 4:28 am

    Well said! I continue to see soft skills such as negotiation and/or communication are more related to earning money and moving up the society.

  • Reply Sword February 10, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    don't forget GENETICS

  • Leave a Reply