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Lec. 4. Strengthening Soft Skills - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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HETC Project University Development Grants (UDGs) Training Program for Proposal Writers. Lec. 4. Strengthening Soft Skills. by Dr BMK Perera Director/Career Guidance Unit University of Peradeniya. Soft skills are also referred to as. Employability skills Key skills Core skills

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Lec. 4. Strengthening Soft Skills

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HETC Project

University Development Grants (UDGs)

Training Program for Proposal Writers

Lec. 4. Strengthening Soft Skills


Dr BMK Perera

Director/Career Guidance Unit

University of Peradeniya

Soft skills are also referred to as

  • Employability skills

  • Key skills

  • Core skills

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Transferable skills

    Fallows, 2002

Soft skills defined …

  • Skills, abilities and traits that pertain to personality, attitude and behavior

    Moss and Tilly, 1996

Soft skills: The two domains





Overt and covert behaviors leading to success or failure

Examples of Interpersonal (interactive) soft skills …

  • Team work

  • Relationship-building

  • Adaptability

  • Written and oral communication

  • Friendliness

  • Attire

  • Grooming

Examples of Intrapersonal (motivational) soft skills

  • Planning/ organizing

  • Taking initiative

  • Problem solving

  • Showing enthusiasm

  • Stress tolerance

  • Dependability

  • Creative thinking and innovation

  • Time management

  • Willingness to learn

  • Coachability


  • Employers criticize university output as having their heads full of theories, concepts and principles but graduates are often ill-equipped to deal with real life situations

  • ‘Soft skills are a lot harder to teach in the world of work‘

    Wall Street Journal Article, 2002

Importance (continued)

  • Companies are going global, and often, technical experts are called upon to do a variety of non-technical tasks requiring soft skills

  • Currently, people management skills are placed higher than strategic management skills and process management

    • Source: BMW Presentation made at University of Rhode Island, 2002 Effective_engineer

Predictors of success in the world of work

Predicts < 30% of a person’s success


Predicts >70% of a person’s success



Relates to resilience

Soft skills domain

Targeting soft skills

  • Inclusion of career guidance in academic program

  • Outward bound training (Experiential learning)

  • Debates/ public speaking competitions/ Toastmasters Club

  • Strengthening of student societies

  • Competitions for projects displaying innovative thinking and team work

  • Mentoring programs within and outside the system (limited numbers)

Targeting soft skills in academic programs

  • Lectures/ workshops on campus

    • Time management

    • Stress management

    • Conflict resolution/ negotiation/ mediation

    • Effective presentations

    • Assertive behavior

    • Understanding teamwork

    • Covey’s 7 habits of effective people

    • CV writing and interview facing (in the last year)

Evolution of soft skills teaching models

Embedded model

Highest level of integration

Integrated model

Skills taught within a given discipline, specialty or faculty

Centralized support service providing generic skills, operating outside curriculum/ Can offer ‘Bolted on’ courses

Learning Centre model

(Expect students to acquire soft skills while following their academic programs

Osmosis model

Targeting soft skills in Outward bound Training

  • Popular with the corporate sector

  • Historically used for training survival skills to seamen in 1941

    • Highly participative

    • Interactive

    • Simulates real life situations

    • Adaptable to needs of the learner

    • Excellent for changing attitudes and developing team spirit

Targeting soft skills in Outward bound Training

  • MIT, Sloan Center, Sloan School for Management example

    • Provided by outside organization (off the campus)

    • Used to build camaraderie

    • Students set personal goals

    • Decide on extracurricular activities to engage in

    • Develop academic operating norms for the semester (Develop a team charter)

    • A lot of physical activities

Intervention 1

First, select a set of soft skills to target

Intervention 2

Intervention 3

Way to develop the proposal…


-Identify concrete needs for university or faculty Determine possible overlaps

-Augment teaching with programs where needed

Soft skill 1

First, select an activity/ intervention

Soft skill 2

Soft skill 3

Irrespective of the approach there is a need to look at;

  • Cost, time and feasibility issues

  • Degree of change possible

  • Relevance to the university

Shedding inhibitions and

Developing assertiveness

Group dynamics

Group dynamics

A short drama ...


Setting new

life goals

Speaking about

one's own life ...

Workshops for Student Society Leaders

Awareness programs for

diverse categories of staff

Thank you

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