Cracking the Code: Why Soft Skills Are the Missing Puzzle Piece in School Curricula

We measure what matters and we focus on what we measure. While most people recognize the value and importance of soft skills, schools do not measure them in a strategic way, so the conversation stays conceptual and the achievement gaps remain. 

Below are the top five reasons you should start thinking about prioritizing soft skill development in your organization and integrating it into your curricula. 

1. Soft skills improve academic outcomes

The Society for Research in Child Development notes that soft skill training for your students can increase GPA and academic performance by 11%. The Global Labor Organization found that student soft skill training increases graduation rates by 30% and increases math testing scores in boys by 7.5% and in girls by 10.7%. Soft skills training also increases assignment completion and performance by 9.3%. Including soft skills training in your Tier 1 MTSS plan is a no-brainer!

2. Soft skills make us future ready 

Nearly ¾ of employers say they cannot find employees with sufficient soft skills, so if we are not strategically teaching and assessing them as part of our curriculum, we are not preparing our students for the workforce. Stanford Research Center, Harvard University, and Carnegie Foundation report that only 15% of our success comes from academic and technical training. The other 85% is due to our soft skills. 

3. Soft skills lead to a happier life and soft skills training can improve mental health

The BESSI Research group reports that soft skills account for nearly 2/3 of our general life happiness. Stress regulation, social warmth, teamwork, anger management, time management and other critical soft skills help us feel more in control of our life and allow us to manage our relationships, responsibilities and emotions. 

4. Soft skills cannot be taught in isolated lessons 

Just like any skill, repetition and daily practice is critical. Experiential, daily practice and reinforcement builds the habits and thinking processes that enhance communication, emotional resilience, thinking and cooperation skills. Soft skills cannot be one teacher’s responsibility as part of your PBIS or CTE coursework. It should be part of everything you do and connected to your PBIS, MTSS and Portrait of a Graduate, if you have one.

5. Teachers do not know how to teach soft skills

Teachers report they do not have time and do not have the training they need to teach soft skills. If schools are going to truly prepare students for their futures, they need to train their teachers on soft skills and generate a culture with shared vocabulary where these skills are valued, forced, modeled and assessed. SHRM reports that 51% of employers believe the education system hasn’t helped close the soft skill gap. 

Schools spend a lot of time, resources and professional development energy identifying interventions to help students succeed. Integrating soft skills into your curricula and making it a daily focus in every classroom as part of Tier 1 instruction will close your achievement gaps, reduce discipline issues and improve student mental health. It is truly the magic dust that leads to success!

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