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Article
Publication date: 9 July 2020

Susanne Wisshak and Sabine Hochholdinger

This study aims to investigate whether soft-skills trainers and hard-skills trainers have different perspectives regarding their required instructional knowledge and skills.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate whether soft-skills trainers and hard-skills trainers have different perspectives regarding their required instructional knowledge and skills.

Design/methodology/approach

An online questionnaire was completed by 129 soft-skills trainers and 61 hard-skills trainers. The authors used 14 items covering relevant instructional knowledge and skills based on the training literature.

Findings

An exploratory factor analysis identified the following two factors: managing interactions and instructional activities. A multivariate analysis of variance showed significant differences in the assessments of managing interactions (p = 0.00) and instructional activities (p = 0.01) between soft- and hard-skills trainers. The differences in managing interactions were larger than those in instructional activities. The soft-skills trainers showed higher agreement with all items. Most individual items had medium effect sizes. The differing perspectives of soft- and hard-skills trainers are not an effect of different educational backgrounds.

Research limitations/implications

These findings suggest that differences exist in the required instructional knowledge and skills depending on whether trainers teach soft or hard skills. Further research should consider the training content.

Practical implications

Practitioners can ensure that soft-skills trainers meet the respective requirements.

Originality/value

This study is the first to investigate the differences in soft- and hard-skills trainers’ perceptions of instructional requirements.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2018

M.S. Rao

The purpose of this paper is to achieve sanctimonious status to the soft skills discipline. It explores soft skills in global organizations and educational institutions.

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1068

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to achieve sanctimonious status to the soft skills discipline. It explores soft skills in global organizations and educational institutions.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper explains the significance of soft skills and the methods to acquire these. It differentiates between soft and hard skills with examples and illustrations. It draws a blueprint to offer soft skills program. It unveils expository strategy, guided strategy and active strategy for teaching and training soft skills.

Findings

The finding of this study reminds that the world is shifting from knowledge economy to self-knowledge economy and of the importance of soft skills with the advent of artificial intelligence. It enlightens that a judicious blend of hard and soft skills is essential for achieving professional and leadership success. It implores not only to build hard skills but also mind soft skills. It concludes that soft skills are essential for everyone from janitors to chief executives to achieve the desired outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

This paper explains from the academic and organizational perspectives only.

Practical implications

This methodology can be applied in any industry and in any size of organization globally.

Social implications

The social implications of this research suggest that educational institutions and global organizations can adopt these methods and strategies to impart and improve soft skills.

Originality/value

This research explores tools and techniques to measure soft skills. It encourages experiential learning to impart soft skills. It coins an innovative evaluation tool – Meka’s five-level model – to measure soft skills training. It outlines a few sample questions to measure soft skills training. It crafts course curriculum for soft skills. It unveils a list of soft skills essential for leaders.

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Article
Publication date: 28 May 2021

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether hard-skills trainers and soft-skills trainers have different perspectives regarding the instructional skills and

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142

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether hard-skills trainers and soft-skills trainers have different perspectives regarding the instructional skills and knowledge they require.

Design/methodology/approach

From the previous training literature the authors used 14 items covering relevant instructional knowledge and skills in a questionnaire which was applied online. Following an exploratory factor analysis a one-way multivariate analysis of variance [MANOVA] was conducted with the training content being the independent variable and the training requirements being the dependent variables.

Findings

Soft-skills trainers and hard-skills trainers differed in the variety of instructional methods and in their emphasis on interpersonal relations and interactions, group management and communication. Those trainers with train-the-trainer certificates did not differ significantly from those who did not have them. Trainers with a university degree in educational science/psychology were more likely to teach soft skills than hard skills but did not agree more with the relevance of instructional skills and knowledge than those without such a degree.

Research limitations/implications

The authors note that the results reflect the subjective perceptions of instructional requirements by trainers rather than objective requirements which would need to be tested by other means.

Practical implications

This study has a range of practical implications including the importance of skill and knowledge content and that of the trainers' perceptions in determining the extent to which what is learned is transferred into day-to-day work.

Originality/value

Previous literature has given little attention to the content of training and it has been unclear how this might affect learning and its transfer.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 36 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

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Article
Publication date: 14 October 2013

M.S Rao

Highlights the importance of top people in an organization having both hard and soft skills.

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3144

Abstract

Purpose

Highlights the importance of top people in an organization having both hard and soft skills.

Design/methodology/approach

Connects hard and soft skills with left and right-brain respectively. Distinguishes between book-smart and street-smart.

Findings

Argues that leaders with hard and soft skills are more likely to enjoy career success and to achieve organizational excellence.

Practical implications

Observes how successful leaders treat others as partners rather than as subordinates.

Originality/value

Demonstrates how leaders with soft skills along with hard skills handle knowledge workers who crave partnership rather than traditional command-and-control management.

Details

Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 21 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-0734

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Article
Publication date: 28 January 2014

M.S. Rao

The purpose of this paper is to bridge the gap between campus and industry among the management and engineering students to enhance their employability. It equips students

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5474

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to bridge the gap between campus and industry among the management and engineering students to enhance their employability. It equips students and faculty with creative tools and techniques to acquire soft skills and provides a new perspective to the discipline of soft skills.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper designs an interview questionnaire containing both open and close-ended questions to elicit responses from faculty, students, recruiters, and directors of educational institutions.

Findings

The study found that there must be effective coordination among faculty, students, industry and directors of educational institutions for enhancing employability skills among students. It places emphasis on the role of Training and Placement Officer (TPO) in the educational institutions for better employability and calls for promotion of finishing schools to enhance employability.

Research limitations/implications

The article relies on limited survey and interview data from one particular district in India and from students of engineering and management education only.

Practical implications

The study can be applied in any part of the world as there is a problem of unemployability everywhere currently.

Originality/value

The paper adds value to the little literature available in the area of soft skills. It sets the agenda for discussion in soft and hard skills and employability, presents problems and prospects and calls for blending both hard and soft skills to enhance employability.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 46 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2017

Thomas Bolli and Ursula Renold

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the questions as to how important skills are; which skills can best be learned at school, and which skills can be acquired…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the questions as to how important skills are; which skills can best be learned at school, and which skills can be acquired better in the workplace.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors exploit data from a survey among professional tertiary education and training business administration students and their employers in Switzerland.

Findings

The authors find that skills used in the business processes strategic management, human resource management, organizational design, and project management are most suitable to be taught in school. However, the results further suggest that soft skills can be acquired more effectively in the workplace than at school. The only exceptions are analytical thinking, joy of learning and organizational soft skills, for which school and workplace are similarly suitable.

Practical implications

The paper provides empirical evidence regarding the optimal choice of the learning place for both human resource managers as well as educational decision makers who aim to combine education and training, e.g. in an apprenticeship.

Originality/value

Little evidence regarding the optimal learning place exists.

Details

Evidence-based HRM: a Global Forum for Empirical Scholarship, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-3983

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Article
Publication date: 13 January 2022

Antigone G. Kyrousi, Eugenia Tzoumaka and Stella Leivadi

The paper aims to explore employability in business as perceived by Generation Z (late millennials) business students and faculty. It focuses on perceptions regarding…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to explore employability in business as perceived by Generation Z (late millennials) business students and faculty. It focuses on perceptions regarding necessary employability skills from the diverse standpoints of two different groups of stakeholders within one Higher Education Institution.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a Mixed Qualitative Design approach including a core and a supplementary component; Generation Z student perceptions are initially identified through a thematic analysis of students’ research reports on employability. These perceptions are then further contextualized through findings from a series of personal interviews conducted with Generation X academics in the same institution.

Findings

The findings support the two basic dimensions of perceived employability, work readiness and employability skills, for which students and educators hold similar notions. Both stakeholders distinguish between “hardandsoftskills, but filter their relative importance through a generational lens. An emerging finding was the link between personality traits and perceived employability skills.

Originality/value

The paper examines the much-debated issue of perceived employability through the eyes of Generation Z students; research on employability perceptions of Generation Z is, to date, limited. The topic is timely, as Generation Z is the newest generation entering the business job market. In addition, the paper adds to the emerging contemporary stream of literature exploring employability in the field of business education.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2019

Ozlem Bak, Christine Jordan and James Midgley

With supply chains expanding in scope and scale globally, the academic literature underlined the increasing role and importance of soft skills. Traditionally, the supply…

Abstract

Purpose

With supply chains expanding in scope and scale globally, the academic literature underlined the increasing role and importance of soft skills. Traditionally, the supply chain literature geared towards hard skills including functional and technical skill sets with limited discussion on soft skills. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to assess and explore the soft skills demand in supply chain management arena.

Design/methodology/approach

This study has utilised a mixed methods study in two phases, with the first stage including a questionnaire distributed to 120 supply chain employees in the UK, followed by six interviews with supply chain experts in the UK.

Findings

The results suggest that soft skills, especially behavioural skills such as communication, planning, initiative and negotiation, were seen to be more important when compared to decision making, negotiation and management skills. The findings indicate that the changing supply chain scope encourages the requisition and development of different supply chain soft skills with varied levels of emphasis in relation to 15 soft skills identified in the literature.

Research limitations/implications

This study employs a mixed-method approach to establish the perceived importance of soft skills in the UK supply chains. This limits the generalisability of the results to other contextual settings.

Practical implications

This paper presents soft skills impact upon the supply chain. Specific soft skills are critical to supply chain employees compared to others (e.g. behavioural and people management skills), which may lead to articulation of supply chain soft skills training initiatives.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the soft skills discussion in the supply chain context and discusses the role of soft skills. Topical gaps in the literature are identified as areas for future research. The findings have generated additional supply chain skills to the academic literature as well as provided an understanding of the weighting of soft skills in terms of their importance and application to industry needs.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2017

Sajjad Ahmad, Kanwal Ameen and Midrar Ullah

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the university information professionals (UIPs) preferred modes of soft skills learning and differences in their opinions based…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the university information professionals (UIPs) preferred modes of soft skills learning and differences in their opinions based on gender, designations and experience.

Design/methodology/approach

Quantitative research design using a questionnaire was used for data collection. Data were analyzed through SPSSS version 20.0, using descriptive and inferential statistics. The population of the study included all the UIPs working in the central libraries of the general public sector 33 universities in Pakistan, with nearly a population of 560.

Findings

The major findings showed that “mentoring sessions by experts” was the most preferred mode of soft skills learning followed by “learning from colleagues”. It showed that UIPs preferred to learn soft skills from experts and colleagues. Independent-samples t-test results found that “mentoring session by experts” was more preferred by females than males. A one-way ANOVA results found significant differences of opinion regarding the “mentoring session by experts” method between librarians and assistant librarians (p = 0.044). Results were statistically significant also between more experienced and less experienced regarding “real project/assignment-based method” and “mentoring session by experts”. In addition, for “formal online courses” and “self-training through reading books”, results were statistically significant between experienced groups of 1-5 years and 11-15 years. Overall results indicated that from UIPs’ perspective, soft skills should be taught to them using face-to-face methods.

Originality/value

This is the first study in Pakistan that dealt with the preferred modes of soft skills learning of UIPs by using a large group (N = 372) of respondents.

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Article
Publication date: 2 May 2017

Rosli Ibrahim, Ali Boerhannoeddin and Kazeem Kayode Bakare

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of soft skill acquisition and the training methodology adopted on employee work performance. In this study, the…

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9932

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of soft skill acquisition and the training methodology adopted on employee work performance. In this study, the authors study the trends of research in training and work performance in organisations that focus on the acquisition of technical or “hard skills” for employee training and evaluating work performance. This study was conducted to redirect the focus of employee training and development goals to the acquisition of soft skills, which have a very high and lasting impact on improving employee performance.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted a quantitative research approach. Questionnaires were administered to selected managers and executives of a few Malaysian private companies. The questionnaire was specifically designed to examine the competencies of various Malaysian-based company managers, executives and supervisors who had undergone a soft skills training programme over a period of a few weeks or months. These soft skills training programmes were not conducted consecutively, but rather with a break or “time-space” in between each session. The target population in this study consisted of 810 employees from nine companies. The sample size was 260 trainees who were selected from the population with a 95 per cent confidence level within 0.05 risk of sampling error.

Findings

Using regression analysis, this study estimated the relationships between employees’ acquisition of soft skills, the training methodology adopted by the trainer, and work performance. The results indicate that the two predictors – soft skill acquisition and training methodology – significantly predict employee performance. The authors propose the need for employers to redesign the methodology for training employees in soft skills. Based on the findings, “time-spaced learning” is highly potent in undermining the hindrance associated with training transfer.

Practical implications

The findings of this study help to raise the awareness of employers, human resource managers, professional and industrial experts and the government to rethink the need to improve soft skills training methodologies. Specifically, this can be achieved by giving the trainees “space” or breaks to practice, apply and internalise what they have learnt intermittently during the training programme. This will enhance employee performance, and consequently, organisational performance. These findings also inform company managers that the time-spaced learning method enables employees to acquire soft skills more effectively, which will invariably bring about positive behaviour changes in employees towards their work and co-workers.

Originality/value

The originality of this research is based on the fact that the results are peculiar to Malaysia, whereas most of the literatures on training methodology especially the time-space and soft skill have focused on developed countries. Furthermore, the study emphasised that time-space learning training methodology helps employees in transferring knowledge acquired during training to their work. The research also emphasised that soft skills acquisition brings about increase in employee work performance. This research shows 14.5 per cent increased employee work performance in the selected companies because of their employees’ acquisition of soft skills and a 27.9 per cent increase in employee performance is based on time-space training methodology. This makes the investigation on the effects of soft skills acquisition and the training methodology adopted on employee performance very important for organisational survival.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 41 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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