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technical and soft skills

Technical skills may get you job, Soft skills can make you or break you as a manager.

In India, earlier, it was a common perception that technical and curriculum-based knowledge is the only prerequisite for well paid jobs in multi-national companies. However that does not hold good any more as there is an unquestionable paradigm shift in the needs of companies today. MNCs across the globe consider that in order to gain a competitive advantage, their employees need to be more of an expert in handling intra-personal and inter-personal issues at work–a reason why  we require soft skills in today’s world.

The term ‘soft skill’ is very closely associated with a person’s ‘EQ’ (Emotional Quotient), the cluster of Personality Traits, Social Traces, Communication, Language Proficiency, Intra-personal Relationship, Assertiveness, Friendliness, Body Language, Inter-Personal Relationship and Optimism that characterize relationships with other people. They provide an important complement to ‘Hard Skills’ and IQ (Intelligence Quotient). Soft skills complement hard skills which are the occupational requirements of a job and many other activities. To get success and for the growth of an organisation, every company prefers to seek in their professionals or even in the case of an entrepreneur, a mixture of both soft as well as hard skills. We should not for a moment think that  hard skills are an absolute must for an engineer to perform his job assiduously and efficiently. In fact,  a blend of both is what determines your level of success as a professional. Hence, a person’s soft skill is an important part of his individual contribution to the success of an organization.

Soft Skills are what are termed as people skills or interpersonal skills. These determine a graduate’s attitude towards his work, organization, clients, peers, subordinates and boss. Soft skills are not just limited to the workplace of a professional but they extend to social and family life as well. They are not just about communicating, but they include ability to manage stress, ability to organize, ability to provide solutions and many more. Any educational Institute always wants engineers to acquire good behavioural skills that will enable them to live by principles. Moreover, a person who has strong principles is more trustworthy, reliable and is a better team player than the others. Most of the time, engineers tend to ignore their soft skills while pursuing their education and even in the formative years of their careers. The curriculum that goes in to make an engineer does not concentrate on the people’s skills. It tends to ignore the fact that at the end of the day, an engineer would be working in a team, reporting to someone, taking reports, dealing with work pressures, giving presentations, attending phone calls, sending mails just to specify a few. In all such situations, along with technical skills, experience and physiological maturity of an individual is going to play an important role.

Here, I am going to bring to light some important traits of soft skills:

  1. Effective Communication Skills
  2. Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Relationship Skills
  3. Presentations
  4. Teamwork & Leadership
  5. Time Management & Stress Management
  6. Problem Solving & Decision Making
  7. Assertiveness
  8. Entrepreneurial Skills

It is well understood that the demand for soft skills have increased globally. Now it is necessary that engineering students must acquire soft skills in addition to their academic and technical skills. Which is a bit difficult for them but once a shortcoming in a specific area of soft skills is detected, there are numerous ways of filling up those shortcomings. Such type of preparation always has a good effect on students’ placement, campus recruitment and at large their career.

Dr Akhilesh Kumar Dwivedi

Soft Skills Coordinator, MRU

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