Important Soft Skills for University Students

FACULTY OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & MULTIMEDIA COMMUNICATION OUMH1103 LEARNING SKILLS FOR OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNERS IMPORTANT SOFT SKILLS FOR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS Name: Md. Mahamudur Rahman E-mail address: [email protected] edu.

my Table of Contents Abstract 2 Introduction3 Discussions4 Conclusion 9 References 10 Abstract “Soft skills” are the extra or additional intangible skills required by students beyond their academic skills which are generic in nature across the various domains of learning that encompasses character and teamwork.

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These are crucial to increase employability and also to compete successfully in this dynamic global environment. “Soft skills provide students with a strong conceptual and practical framework in building, developing and managing teams. It plays an important role in the overall personality development thereby enhance the student’s career prospects”. (Balaji & Somashekar, 2009) It ensures securing jobs after completing their study.

Due to importance of soft skills, the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) has introduced “Malaysian Soft Skills Scale” named My3S, which can effectively be applied to students in institutions of higher learning to equip the students with, for getting a job and for further promotions and progress in the workplace.

There are seven main elements introduced in “Malaysian Soft Skills Scale (My3S)” which are communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills, teamwork skills, learning and information management skills, entrepreneurial skills, moral and professional ethics and leadership skills.

This report will discuss the importance of soft skills, taking into consideration of 7 core dimensions from previous mentioned elements of My3S, which play a vital role in the overall personality development of the university students. This paper will conclude suggesting for future graduates, government bodies and educational institutions to ensure that university students are equipped with the soft skills which are necessary for their current education & future career development. Introduction Goethe said “Every individual is a marvel of unknown and unrealized possibility” (Sahni, 2011).

Malaysian State Labour Department deputy director August Buma said potential employers demanded soft skills like communication and work competency besides being knowledgeable.

“Youths nowadays often think that they can easily secure a job because they are considered ‘professionals’ after completing their tertiary education. But the working world has changed in the past decade and demands more skills and competency. So, having knowledge without soft skills is an obstacle for fresh graduates in job hunting,” (Chan, 2011) Soft skills for students especially have become indispensable in this highly competitive global technological era.

Students with a generous measure of soft skills will be able to manage well in this competitive world. These skills provide students with a strong conceptual and practical knowledge in building, developing and managing teams. This can transform them to self-confident individuals, capable of managing diverse situations in organizations & even for their personal life.

As the educational trends and courses undergo dramatic changes, there are a multitude of opportunities and career options which are available to students today.

But with the increasing options, there has been an equal rise in competition for jobs, and getting a good job is now becoming more and more difficult. With so many job applicants, it is only befitting that a person who has an extra edge over his rivals gets the job. Thus, besides the qualifications that we gain through colleges and universities or the so-called hard skills, there are other skills which are necessary to succeed at the workplace. This extra edge is what is now known as the soft skills or the desirable qualifications that set apart the leader from the followers.

After a lot of research, it has been seen that other than the tangible factors that contribute to the growth of an individual, there are the intangible factors which contribute to the success of a student in their current academic position, in getting a job and then in future growth. And this is also the most undervalued aspect in all educational organizations. But the impact of the intangible skills of an individual is far more than the impact of the tangible ones. And this can be seen from many successful people like “Abraham Lincoln (Lawyer, U. S.

resident, finished one year of formal schooling, self-taught himself trigonometry, and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer), Benjamin Franklin, (Inventor, scientist, author, entrepreneur, primarily home-schooled), Frank Lloyd Wright (The most influential architect of the twentieth century. Never attended high school), Amadeo Peter Giannini, (Multimillionaire, Founder of Bank of America, dropped out of high school) (Toren, 2012) & so many others who either dropped out of school or never had any formal education. “But does their success mean that academic excellence is not required?

No! What it basically shows is that a person having good personal and soft skills can change the problems into opportunities and deal with the negatives in a more constructive and better way. ” (Sharma, 2009) These are not just skills that can be acquired from a college or a school. They are the basic life skills which help us shape & polish our outer veneer. These help to tackle difficult situations and come out with flying colors.

The test of a man is always in adversity. In career terms, soft skills soften our edges and provide an individual a competitive advantage over others.

But those who ignore this vital aspect of the personality learn their importance in a hard way when they are passed up or are unable to get that prized promotion. Discussions: Baxter and Young (1982) have indicated that employers need entry level workers who are dependable and trustworthy, have basic communication, thinking and problem solving skills, and have the desire to learn and advance the ability to work as part of a team, and possess a proper attitude. These skills have been defined as those needed by today’s students in a report published by the US Department of Labor (2000).

The report states that graduates must have mastered employability skills, also called foundation skills, and competencies in order to find meaningful work. Foundation skills are basic skills, thinking skills, and personal qualities, while competencies include resource, interpersonal, information, systems, and technology competencies. (Gurcharan Singh ; Garib Singh, 2008). So, how it cane be aquired by the students? The answer is a change. A change of personality ; attitude may bring them closest to their dream.

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser I realized the world would not change. And I decided to shorten my sights somewhat and change only my country. But it too seemed immovable. As I entered my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I sought to change only mv family, those closest to me, but alas they would have none of it. And now here I lie on my death bed realize (perhaps for the first time) that if only I’d changed myself first, then by example I may have influenced my family and with their encouragement and support I may have bettered my country, and who knows I may have changed the world.

(Cheema, 2009). Personality development is the key matter for any individual because it makes us feel like our own way, make us think creatively ; drive us to act as a genius. Employers today are looking for graduates not only with specific skills and knowledge but with the ability to be proactive enough to see and respond to problems. The soft skill describes the efficiency, abilities and effectiveness of a person. The hard kills can be more easily defined and measured. But evaluation of a soft skill is a complex task.

They are intangible skills.

Hence they are difficult to define measure and observe hard and skills need to be acquired simultaneously. They help to improve our effectiveness. “By early 2009, 80% of German universities were offering training in soft skills, either integrated in regular courses or organized by their career centers. ” (Philipose, 2010).

The Multimedia Development Corporation Malaysia conducted a survey among Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) status companies and found that respondents perceived Malaysian ICT graduates to be ‘average’. The graduates were generally good team players and had good earning ability; however, their major weakness was their communication skills. (Gurcharan Singh ; Garib Singh, 2008) Research shows that in Malaysia, more employers are searching for graduates who are balanced, with good academic achievement and possessing ‘soft skills’ such as communication skills, problem solving skills, interpersonal skills and the ability to be flexible. Malaysian Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said that he was taking into consideration complaints from employers that graduates lacked soft skills. We take these views seriously, which is why we are introducing this new module for the new 2006/07 intake,” he said after Multimedia University’s orientation program for new students.

“My mission is to ensure our graduates have the necessary skills. ” (Chapman, 2006). As a rusult of this initiative taken, all the public universities teaching modules preescribed by MQA (Malaysian Qualificaion Agency) ; MoHE (Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia) compulsory for the Public ; some private university students. Darwin said ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most Intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. (Sahni, 2011). Malaysia welcoming ongoing changes in higher education system to adopt soft skill courses for their university students to build students stronger in terms of generic skills required for real life application of the knowleges gained through tertiary education.

Communication Skills: I know you heard what I said, but I am not sure you understand what I meant. (Cheema, 2009) It is said that most of the problems of the world are either because of lack of communication or because of bad communication.

And it is the time for nations, groups, organizations and individuals to seriously retrospect this root cause. If communication between these sections of the world-society were perfect, there would be no wars, no strikes in works, organizations, no arguments leading to divorce, murders etc. , there would be less policing, lesser no. of courts and jails and this planet could become a peaceful place to live in.

Communication is the key to success at workplace and in personal life. We need good communication skills to Share our thoughts, feelings or ideas ; experiences with others. Get things done from others.

Know about things of our interest. Put across to others what we want develop satisfying relationship with others. According to the definition, “Communication is the sum of all the things one person does when he wants to create understanding in the mind of another.

It is a bridge of meaning. It involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understanding” (Louis A. Allen). University students need to acquire these skills combining written/oral communication with mastering effective listening technique with visual display especially for public communication.

Some students are not having sufficient communication skill due to their fear of public speaking, introvert in nature ; lack of social communication as most of the time they experience one way communication approach. Because of the lack of mingle with people from different background ; cultures.

It’s very much important for students to make a strong foundation of these skills for creating better employability scopes. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills: Problem solving skills deal with the ability to identify problems and gather relevant information to solve them.

It uses sound judgment to generate alternatives and evaluate them to make recommendations, which helps in solving the problems. (Balaji ; Somashekar, 2009) This effective skill helps in generating alternatives amidst adversities and unexpected changes that may occur in different circumstances. Some students facing this problem due to their way of thinking is traditional rather than creative.

For some instance low quality of education ; improper guidelines causes them to lack of this really important soft skill. Teamwork Skills: Team work encourages members and facilitates cooperation, instills a sense of pride, trust and group identity.

It fosters commitment, team spirit and helps the teams to achieve their goals. For the corporate world there are no other alternatives of teamwork skills to make one’s organization stand first in the competition, achieve the targeted goal ; prove someone’s excellence. “You can never do it alone” is a corporate rhyme which proven right for the team bound activities ; projects.

This is in fact very much necessary in the academic context too. Because some subjects if one can discuss with his/her group can get more understanding ; information ather than study standalone. The students whoever lacks this skills is less motivated towards their goal ; team spirit. They surely need to start engaging into team activities to foster their talents right away. Learning and Information Management Skills: This skill assists in developing the ability to learn new methods and techniques to acquire and apply new knowledge, skills and working methods.

This helps one to use different training methods, provide feedback and capitalize on other opportunities for self-learning and development. Entrepreneurial Skills:

While entrepreneurs have in common certain characteristics and skills, there is a wide range of individuality among them. Some receive formal training and skill development. Others have a natural flair for it. Still others break every rule or devise very unusual approaches, but still succeed.

Which do you think would be your style? Do what you love! According to research, one of the most important qualities associated with successful entrepreneurship is passion. When people feel committed to what they are doing and when they care deeply about it, they stand the best chance of being successful at it.

The heart must become an ally of the mind. Think about this popular business saying: If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it! Entrepreneurs typically care more about what they are doing than how much money they might make. They must earn an income, of course, or they cannot continue to be entrepreneurs; however, the amount they earn often is secondary to achieving their goals.

If I Think I Can . . . I Can! Being an entrepreneur require someone to have self-confidence. Entrepreneurs are self-reliant.

Entrepreneurs have other qualities as well.

To accomplish their goals and make their vision a reality, successful entrepreneurs must have driven, persistence, the ability to complete tasks, and be willing to work hard. Additionally, they are opportunity-focused and forward-looking. Moral And Professional Ethics: This is obvious that every one of us is guided by some values in our own life. We have moral obligation to do certain things although it’s not pretty unethical. But we avoid doing the contradictory part relating to our moral values for conflict of interest.

Each profession has some defined ethics or code of conduct.

Students should have understanding about the ethics before starting certain job because it’s sometimes costs even life for the simple ignorance. As an example, a doctor is very tired after his office hour ; he is going to take rest. In the meantime, he got a call from a very critical patient. Here doctor is not bound to attend the call as his office hour already finished, but from the ethical point of view, doctor should attend the call despite being tired after a very busy day.

If doctor doesn’t want to go ; attend for the surgery for this critical patient, he may find the patient dead after he wakes up from the bed.

So, it’s a very good skill to learn about the moral ; professional ethics during university courses, because it will be regarded as a very good soft skill for a student. It will help the student in every aspect of his life. Leadership Skills: “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. They are made just like anything else, through hard work.

And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. ” – Vince Lombardi Leadership skill is a very important soft skill for those students who want to become a leader. To become a successful leader students should begin their hard work unless he/she is a leader by born.

Conclusion After doing an exclusive study ; an in depth discussion about the topic, we can conclude by saying, soft skills for university students are very much important and essential as a part of their study as because these skills will enable them to increase their employability scopes to compete successfully in this super dynamic global job environment. Government ; educational institutions should design ; implement the most up to date career building programs for students. Educating university students in a proper way can help them grow in their domain of learning ; make them most powerful asset for this country.

References Balaji, K. A. , ; Somashekar, P. P. (2009).

A Comparative Study of Soft Skills Among Engineers. IUP Journal Of Soft Skills, 3(3/4), 50-57. Chan, Z. (2011, May 15). Graduates lack soft skills.

Retrieved June 21, 2012, from The Star Online: http://thestar. com. my/news/story. asp? file=%2F2011%2F5%2F15%2Fsarawak%2F8687584;sec=sarawak Chapman, K. (2006, June 13). Undergrads to learn soft skills from next month.

Retrieved June 23, 2012, from The Star Online: http://thestar. com. my/news/story. asp? file=/2006/6/13/nation/14517221;sec=nation Cheema, D. (2009). Personality Development (Mastering Soft Skills).

Chandigarh, India: Gloabal Media. Farahida Binti Abdul Jaafar, Datuk Prof. Mohd Yusof Kasim, Zainalabidin Hambali, ; Bahrulmazi Edrak. (2012, May 7-9). The Impact Of Asia Pacific University College Of Technology And Innovation’s (Ucti) Continuous Community Engagement Programmes On The Development Of Students’ Generic Soft Skills.

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, ; Garib Singh, S. K. (2008). Malaysian Graduates’ Employability Skills. Unitar E-Journal, Vol.

4, No. 1. Jain, V. 2009, February 22). Importance of Soft skills development in education. Retrieved June 20, 2012, from School of Educators: http://schoolofeducators.

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universityworldnews. com/article. php? story=20101002085623288 Sahni, M. L. (2011). The Impact of Soft Skill Training Induction.

BVIMR Management Egde, 4(2), 40-47. Sharma, M. (2009). How Important Are Soft Skills from the Recruiter’s Perspective. ICFAI Journal Of Soft Skills, 3(2), 19-28.

Toren, A. (2012, February 10). 100 Top Entrepreneurs Who Succeeded without a College Degree. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from Young Entrepreneur: http://www. youngentrepreneur.

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