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Article

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

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…

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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Article

Timothy Yeardley

The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on a longitudinal research study that examines the content delivery of courses provided by private training providers…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on a longitudinal research study that examines the content delivery of courses provided by private training providers (PTPs) for first level managers (FLMs). It measures, against a contemporary soft skill model, the relevance of “off the shelf” training which is aimed at FLMs managerial soft skills, as opposed to “technical” or “hard skilltraining. The research has been carried out over three phases. The paper will critically compare and contrast the results and determine if there are any prevailing management paradigms in the content of the courses.

Design/methodology/approach

There were three key phases undertaken during the research. Phase 1 involved developing a multi-dimensional best practise core soft skills framework for professional managers. The second phase involved a pilot study conducted as desk research using various online and direct marketing channels in researching 45 PTPs first line manager courses in the UK over a period of two months during October to November 2011, and this exercise was repeated in phase 3 during February and March 2015 using a sample (20) of the same 45 PTPs. Both exercises involved comparing and contrasting the Core Soft Skills Framework to the PTP courses using thematic and coding techniques.

Findings

The studies have revealed surprising omissions and contrary positions when it comes to teaching FLMs non-technical skills. On some PTP courses there appeared contrary positions taken up on key managerial concepts such as leadership. In both research phases, “delegation” is an area which FLMs receive significant training. The activity of delegation is an example of top down management used to demonstrate command and control paradigms within the workplace, and fails to take into account todays cultural behavioural shifts. There is also a total lack of acknowledgement on the impact technology is having on a younger generation of managers interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.

Research limitations/implications

The best practise core soft skill framework is based on three key soft skill models which do not take into account soft skills for FLMs. These models do not presently exist. Both the initial study and 2015 follow-up are undertaken by desk research and the content marketing collateral as promoted by the PTPs. What actually happens on the courses themselves: broader management discussions, role play, sharing experiences, etc. cannot be evaluated as part of this research. No distinction has been made in the research with regard the length of the courses.

Practical implications

PTP FLM training is not irrelevant; it is necessary for managers. An issue is the training is pitched at concepts and skills which are too advanced for the FLM who are missing out on the basic non-technical skills. Without this fundamental introduction, it is teaching FLMs to run before they can walk. Of all the FLM courses now researched, there has only been one which covers all the soft skills identified in the framework. With so many core soft skills from the framework omitted from PTP FLM courses, how can FLMs be expected to grasp the basics of soft skills and apply them?

Originality/value

By breaking down the findings, this research can have considerable impact with regard the provision of training for new managers. It informs HR departments about the inconsistencies of new manager training between the providers, but it also highlights areas to new management which are not covered by the courses. For training providers it will act as a reminder that training courses need to be continually reviewed and redesigned to remain relevant as culture rapidly changes from a personal interaction society to a technology interaction society. As a result more emphasis needs to be placed on communication, teamwork, interaction type activities to build intuition and “nous”. Today’s young people are “streetwise” – in technology but not in personal relationships….

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 49 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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Article

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.

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

Nida’a K. AbuJbara and Jody A. Worley

This paper aims to highlight the importance of soft skills for leadership and offers recommendations for soft skill development training for the next generation of leaders.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to highlight the importance of soft skills for leadership and offers recommendations for soft skill development training for the next generation of leaders.

Design/methodology/approach

An integrated review of current research literature was conducted on management, leadership and soft skills to develop recommendations for integrating the development of soft skills in leadership development training protocol.

Findings

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for soft skills development or measurement. Each soft skill is defined differently and should be assessed based on different behavioral actions. Progress in this area of measurement development will make a great impact on the use of soft skills. The development of assessment tools for the different soft skills across professional disciplines is assumed to enhance other aspects of transformational leadership such as coaching and mentoring.

Research limitations/implications

Current strategies for the assessment and measurement of soft skills present an obstacle for including these skills in current leadership training models.

Practical implications

The paper includes implications for the development of soft skills for the next generation of leaders and offers recommendations for integrating the development of soft skills in leadership training programs.

Originality/value

This paper fulfills an identified need to study how soft skills can be measured and assessed. This is important given that specific skills vary across professional disciplines and organizational contexts.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Content available
Article

Anjana Singh and Prashanti Jaykumar

Tourism and hospitality is one of the fastest growing segments of the services industry in India, and there is tremendous need and opportunity for young, educated and…

Abstract

Purpose

Tourism and hospitality is one of the fastest growing segments of the services industry in India, and there is tremendous need and opportunity for young, educated and qualified professionals. Academics and employers agree that there is an increasing gap between the soft skills that companies expect from their entry-level employees and the skills that these young people possess. To bridge this gap, industry leaders and researchers indicate the need for more soft skills training. The purpose of this paper is to identify soft skills competencies that are required for a diverse group of entry-level employees and then to identify gaps by exploring the hospitality programme and internships.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is analytical in nature and draws on a literature review and a questionnaire as a survey tool for stakeholders. The research had separate questionnaires for employers, students and faculty members of the Vedatya Institute, educator for the service industry. The research is focused on entry-level employees – students who had graduated from Vedatya Institute in the past five years. The employers are primarily general managers and human resource managers of five-star hotels who have recruited and been part of campus interviews.

Findings

The research analysed soft or employability skills for the hospitality industry, and it provided valuable insights from employers and perceptions of graduates in attainment of those skills during their degree programme. The study highlighted the significant role of internship in developing soft skills.

Practical implications

The paper recommends practical solutions for educators and organizations that can be applied. The research synthesized current thinking on required soft skills for young entry-level employees and explores the soft skills gap in the context of a growing soft skills training market with recommendation for stakeholders.

Originality/value

The research sought to address the real life problem impacting the hospitality industry in India using inputs from the literature, graduates and employers.

Details

Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-4217

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Article

Rowena Crosbie

To challenge the role of training as a single methodology for the development of personal and interpersonal “soft skills” for leaders.

Abstract

Purpose

To challenge the role of training as a single methodology for the development of personal and interpersonal “soft skills” for leaders.

Design/methodology/approach

To make a case for the importance of soft skills development for leaders and then to explore the role of training, along with other critical elements, in helping leaders develop these skills. This is done through an explanation of the complex process of learning.

Findings

Learning takes time and the learning of the complex personal and interpersonal skills of leadership takes even more time. Statistical analysis supports the recommended methodology outlined in this paper.

Research limitations/implications

The research cited in this paper is a representative sample from research collected over five different leadership development programs studied. Although the methodology used was consistent from program to program, each program was highly customized, by design, to meet the unique needs of the specific organization, thus potentially compromising the measurement/research from a strictly academic perspective.

Practical implications

Organizations undertaking a leadership development initiative are encouraged to look beyond simply evaluating training programs. Success depends not only on effective training but also on such important elements as expert facilitation, contextual awareness, formal and informal support, real‐world application, self‐study, self‐awareness, stress and celebration.

Originality/value

The ability to accurately assess the effectiveness of training in the soft skills arena has long been debated. This paper, drawn from extensive research conducted by Tero® International offers insight on this subject. A white paper was expected to be available near the end of 2004.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 37 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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Article

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

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

M.S Rao

– Emphasizes the need to give soft-skills training equal importance with other core subjects in Indian educational institutions to enhance students’ employability.

Abstract

Purpose

Emphasizes the need to give soft-skills training equal importance with other core subjects in Indian educational institutions to enhance students’ employability.

Design/methodology/approach

Illustrates with a blueprint to ensure industry – institute interaction and co-ordination from all stakeholders including educators, industry, training and placement officers and soft-skills trainers.

Findings

Highlights the need to treat soft skills like any other core subject to make students understand their importance.

Practical implications

Shows that soft skills will enable students to grow not only as an enlightened and empowered individuals but also as an employable and self-employable individuals.

Social implications

Seeks strong support from all stakeholders, including educators, students, parents, industry, non-governmental organizations and government, to enhance employability skills in students.

Originality/value

Turns the spotlight on the importance of soft skills to students and the Indian economy as a whole.

Details

Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 23 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-0734

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Article

Jungsun (Sunny) Kim, Mehmet Erdem, JeoungWoo Byun and Hwayoung Jeong

The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceived importance of soft skills for hotel employees, their willingness to use electronic learning (e‐learning) as a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceived importance of soft skills for hotel employees, their willingness to use electronic learning (e‐learning) as a training tool to improve their soft skills, and the impact of hotel employees' individual characteristics (i.e. motivation, self‐efficacy, technology anxiety) on their intentions to use e‐learning across different age groups.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample was randomly selected from hotel employees working at various upscale international chain hotels in South Korea. The data were analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM) to simultaneously measure the impact of four independent variables on the intention to use e‐learning for both younger and older learners.

Findings

The analysis revealed that responsibility, self‐esteem, sociability, and working with diverse groups were rated more important by younger hotel employees. The results suggest that learners who have higher extrinsic motivations in using e‐learning will be more likely to use e‐learning. However, the other variables (i.e. technology anxiety, self‐efficacy, and intrinsic motivation) did not significantly affect the intention to use e‐learning.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are practical for hotel managers/trainers, because they can focus on external rewards instead of internal rewards to motivate employees to use e‐learning. Age did not have a moderating effect between technology anxiety and the intention to use e‐learning. Since the respondents tend to be younger and have a higher standard of education compared with those of the general population, they may more accurately represent hotel employees at upscale or international chain hotels.

Originality/value

The study proposes a framework to examine the impact of hotel employees' individual characteristics on their intention to use e‐learning. The study also validates some relationships that have shown inconsistent results in previous studies. Future research could employ qualitative studies to investigate underlying dimensions of the variables tested in this study.

Details

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 23 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-6119

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