At Gateway High School, we strive to give our students the best possible chance of success in a constantly evolving workforce. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence and robotics will undoubtedly transform the way Americans approach work in the future. The fact that these developments will impact future career opportunities is widely known, but many people aren’t exactly sure how these changes will take place.
There is a tendency for people to assume that AI and robotics will simply result in fewer job opportunities for the average American worker. While it’s true that students may find it difficult to excel in certain career paths, the rise of AI can also clear the way for brand new opportunities. Numerous studies have confirmed that soft skills are vitally important for students pursuing careers in a vast range of industries and fields.
While technical and hands-on tasks may eventually become the domain of robots and AI, there will always be a demand for humans who can communicate, connect, resolve conflicts, and solve problems in creative ways. High schools like Gateway are responsible for teaching soft skills at an early stage, providing students with the experience they need to effectively pursue meaningful career paths at the college level.
Why Soft Skills Are Important
To put it simply, soft skills are important because people will always prefer to communicate with other humans, no matter how advanced AI becomes. This is true whether individuals are buying something online, speaking with a consultant, or conducting day-to-day tasks as they help run a business.
According to the Future of Jobs report, some of the nation’s most prominent employers are searching for professionals who can make complex decisions while exhibiting emotional intelligence and strong leadership skills. A joint study by Boston College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan also found that “[workers with advanced soft skills] are 12 percent more productive than those who did not receive the training in soft skills.” Deloitte Access Economics predicted in another study that two-thirds of all jobs in Australia will rely on soft skills by 2030. There are many other similar studies, but the data all points in the same direction: soft skills will be very important in the workplace of the future.
How We Can Teach Our Students Soft Skills
The first step is to define what soft skills actually are, since the term itself is somewhat vague. Some of the best examples of these skills include the following:
There are many other skills that fall into the category of “soft,” and Gateway must use a careful approach when teaching these skills. “Professionalism,” for example, is often cited in job vacancy announcements as a desired ability as well as “organized” and “proactive.” Teachers can facilitate learning that fosters soft skill understanding by placing a greater emphasis on communication skills during group projects.
Project management is also an important soft skill, especially when multiple students are working together on the same assignment. The importance of public speaking should also be emphasized, particularly for students who may not feel comfortable with this task. Simply allowing students to be more creative is another excellent way to encourage the development of soft skills. Giving students autonomy and ownership over their education can encourage them to work harder and increase accountability.
With our students currently learning remotely, the need for soft skills becomes even more apparent. In an increasingly digitized environment, those with strong soft skills will have the ability to set themselves apart while others struggle with the impersonal, data-driven “language” of virtual interaction. Although AI and robotics will drastically change our workforce, students at Gateway High School can adapt to these changes and find a meaningful place in America’s future.