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Why Social Skills are Crucial at Work

October 23, 2015

Social skills like cooperation, empathy, and flexibility have become increasingly vital in the modern-day workforce. According to new research, occupations that require strong social skills have grown much more than other occupations since 1980. The only occupations that have shown consistent wage growth since 2000 require both cognitive and social skills.

To prepare students for these changes, schools are faced with the task of equipping students with critical social skills. “Machines are automating a whole bunch of [tasks], so having the softer skills, knowing the human touch and how to complement technology, is critical, and our education system is not set up for that,” said Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christian Institute. Many schools are responding by adding social skills to their curriculum.

According to a recent study, jobs that require both social and math skills have fared best in employment and pay. Jobs that require social skills but not math skills have also grown; lawyers and child-care workers are examples. The jobs that have been rapidly disappearing are those that require neither social nor math skills, like manual labor.

Researchers have drawn these conclusions outside academia, as well. Google researchers, for example, studied the company’s employees to determine which qualities make one a superior manager. The study found that people who made time for one-on-one meetings, helped employees work through problems, and took an interest in employees’ lives, were found to be the best managers. To read more on this study, click here.