What are soft skills and why are they important?
“Soft skills” is a term used by employers to describe the personality traits and interpersonal skills required of employees to succeed in almost any job.
In recent years, soft skills have become even more important to success in a professional career. They have become a popular talking point in the media, and among employers and legislators.
Why Are Soft Skills Important?
In a BBC article (Oct 2nd, 2015), former headmaster of Wellington College, Dr Anthony Seldon, described the importance of soft skills:
“It is not good grades, but a “grounding in soft skills” that give people who went to independent schools their edge.”
While soft skills tend to come from life experience, they are not always inherent. They are something you can learn. It is important to push students to develop their social and soft skills. That, combined with their experience and knowledge, can propel their career to the desired heights.
Participating in international service learning projects allows students to tap into these soft skills from a young age – before they enter the job market. This effectively prepares them for their future careers and immediately makes them stand out as more employable.
What Soft Skills Can Students Learn Through International Service-Learning Projects?
Some of the soft skills students can expect to gain during an international service-learning project are the following:
- Adaptability: We can’t always plan for everything. Being able to adapt to new developments and still achieve your goal is an important skill in the business world and during a service-learning project.
- Intercultural Competence: Travelling overseas exposes students to new cultures. Students see how people in other countries are living and what challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.
- Empathy: When students take part in service-learning projects, they are exposed to different cultures and people that live very different lives from them. This exposure creates empathy as they start to relate to other people’s challenges and circumstances.
- Communication: An important skill of working in a team is being able to communicate. During a service-learning project, you will need to communicate your ideas and explain your thought process when presenting a possible solution.
- Problem Solving: Students gain the ability to collect data, analyse, interpret, and explain the results to solve a problem or suggest the next steps that should be taken.
- Leadership: During a service-learning project, students will need to show leadership even if they aren’t in an authoritative position. They will need to motivate themselves and others and show that they can manage a project from beginning to end.
This shift towards soft skills is welcome for those fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help educate young adults. It’s a shift towards an education enhanced with hands-on, team-led activities, combined with arts, sports and other “non-traditional” subjects. This will only enrich the educational experience and result in a more adaptable, resilient, and environmentally and culturally aware society.
GVI is a multi-award winning international organisation, running various experiential learning programs abroad. Find out more about our international service-learning programs and see how students from around the world are making a difference.
- Cape Coast
- Cape Town
- Chiang Mai
- Community Development
- Fiji Islands
- Gap Year
- GVI Live
- Kampong Cham
- Luang Prabang
- Mahe and Curieuse
- Marine Conservation
- Personal Development
- Phang Nga
- Responsible Travel
- Service Learning
- Study Abroad
- Under 18
- Wildlife Conservation
- Women's Empowerment