Researchers and practitioners alike have raised the issue of the misalignment between the competencies which the business graduate attempts to impart and the competencies which the managers need while on job (Anwar et. al. 2006; Blass & Weight, 2005; Elliott & Goodwin, 1994; Gupta et. al. 2007; Kleiman & Kass, 2007; Rubin & Dierdorff, 2009; Smith, 2002). This research is an exploratory research which seeks to explain which soft skills employers require and value for the employees. During the course of time man has establish that it is necessary to possess skills in order to survive, in the course of ancient times, those skills alternated from the art of war, to the art of rhetoric. In the colonial times, those skills ranged from agriculture, to seamanship, and the industrial revolution diminished the need for employees who were largely self-employed and rural based, and amplified the need for employees with more focused skills for urban factory work. As an outcome, the need of acquiring soft skills, along with the technical skills, started to progress (Kleiman & Kass, 2007).
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The initiation of Sputnik hatched the dawn of the technology age, due to which the need for entirely new skill sets was brought in. Initially, skills concentrated on technical ability, yet, as technology became more conventional, and technical sets became better established and more readily accessible, employers lifted some of the focus to soft skills. Increasing universal outsourcing has also brought about an exploration of what skills are critical to keep in-house. The results of numerous studies show that the "client -facing" skills are critical in-house skills (Elliott & Goodwin, 1994).
Soft skills are those skills which are used when one human interacts with another human. The concept of soft skills was fronted by Dale Carnegie who presented its critical significance in his 1936 book titled as "How to win friends and influence people" this publication of Dale developed the wave for soft skill training and development. The study of soft skills progressed from works by theoreticians such as Gardner in 1985, and Williams and Sternburg in 1998, who used the constructs of Gardner's intrapersonal and interpersonal components in their work
Researchers at Virginia Tech establish that soft skills indirectly donated to student's success, even though the student's academic success was not directly associated to soft skills, students with profound soft skills had more self-efficacy (self-confidence, and knowledge that one can handle any difficulties or challenges commendably), and that having self-efficacy in turn boosted their academic performance. Substantial research point in the right direction that business professionals have traditionally lacked soft skills (Smith, 2002).
1.2 Background of the Study
Ever since 1986, immense amounts of research are held to examine the evolving topic of soft skills (Anwar et. al. 2006; Blass & Weight, 2005; Elliott & Goodwin, 1994; Gupta et. al. 2007; Kleiman & Kass, 2007; Rubin & Dierdorff, 2009; Smith, 2002). The twofold challenges of competing in a world market and fast evolving technological progressions have call for the remodel of the workplace into an advanced work environment recognized as the high-performance workplace. This setting demands a conduct and coordination toward work that go past step-by-step task performance by expecting employees at all levels to resolve complications, craft ways to progress the measures they use and participate outrageously with associates (Cohen & Baily, 1997). Knowledge workers who authenticate this exceptionally skilled, adaptive fusion of technical and human relations ability are acknowledged by employers as their primary competitive edge.
Job specific methodological skills in a specified field are no longer sufficient as employers tussle to fill a growing number of inter-reliant jobs. A 2002 study of 25 Top Executives of Canadian companies hiring 100 to 500 people displayed that the number one challenge cited by applicants was developing management's people skills in technically-oriented people. Even though many of these professionals were familiar with the prerequisites of what needs to be done, and how to get the job done, many have to struggle communicating this to others and encouraging employees to produce the finest outcomes (Thach, 2002). The prerequisite to cultivate creativity was also crucial on the list of challenges, with a white paper by IDC Canada Ltd. and Mashtech Quantum bear witness that firms are eyeing for personality traits (soft skills) over technical skills. Himmelsbach reports that "Client satisfaction is not derived from technical skills alone. In fact, personality traits, along with other non-technical skills, such as communication skills and business knowledge, were considered keys to satisfaction" (Himmelsbach, 1999).
Interpersonal skills are repeatedly stated as a much needed soft skill, which overlaps with the expiration of the control and demand manager. Contrasting the workstation of the past, managers can no longer depend on authority and power, expanded through the position they grip in the organization as all employees must now be competent enough to get along with each other. Each person will be expected to be part of the team (Lyons, 1985).
Today's firms place immense stress on interpersonal skills making the workplace very dissimilar from what it was 20 years ago; therefore, "As the world has changed and the nature of work has changed, the skill set required of managers has changed" (Buhler, 2001). Buhler goes on to clarify one of the causes as to why this transformation has taken place: Devoid of a doubt, for decades the corporate world placed an excessive value on conventionally masculine traits for managers. With the upsurge in the number of women in the workforce for the past two or three eras, more consideration has been given to the conventionally feminine characteristics. This has developed today to the acknowledgement of implanting more prominence on the soft skills" (Buhler, 2001).
At present, workers and executives join forces to advance the work environment, its efficiency, and service. In the former times, the stress was not on soft skills like it is today. Ganzel states that in contemporary age soft skills have become vital for the workforce. Referring to the inconsistency of the evolving workplace, and the impertinence to which some employees embrace having to practice soft skills, companies now prefer salesperson who are not merely as sales person but are a "despised salesperson" (Ganzel, 2001).
Jacobs-Stewart, a specialized psychologist who works with EI training, come to an agreement by saying, "The world has changed under their feet. In the past, the engineers and scientists could do their jobs in isolation, but today you can't succeed without collaboration. No longer do we have companies with departments doing just one thing. It is an interdependent world" (Ganzel, 2001). The concept of an inter-reliant world is critical as the pressure is on employees not only to have soft skills to meet consumer satisfaction within a familiar culture, it has now also become essential to perform socially acceptable crosswise several varied cultures.
1.3 Importance of Soft Skills for Employers
Despite the fact of being able to interact well with others has delivered individuals with the talent to obtain and be prosperous in a position, soft skills had not fundamentally been singled out as a recruitment goal. Buhler (2001) enlightens; for years the stress of management stood on the so-called 'hard' skills. That is, the importance focused on the technical skills essential to efficiently perform in the interior of the organization. These skills tending to be more job-specific or more devotedly related to the genuine task being performed (Buhler, 2001). As soft skills can have such a deep impact on the bottom line, it makes sense that companies would be keen to help employees cultivate the competencies that donate to the development of soft skills.
The prospect years give the impression to hold even more emphasis on soft skills, as the IEEE (2006) anticipated of the progressing preference for soft skills, Greg Rich, a recruiting manager at Cargill, Recognize soft skills importance and says that soft skills will be absolutely critical in the forthcoming years (Isaacs, 1998). As Kantrowitz (2005) accounts that in spite of escalating interest in learning the dimensions and estimation of task and related performance, little empirical attention has been given to learning the nature of soft skills performance. Soft skills (i.e., intrapersonal and interpersonal work skills that assist the use of technical skills and knowledge), such as interpersonal skills (e.g., developing rapport) and communication skills (e.g., regulating your message to the marked audience) are highly required by organizations (Zedeck & Goldstien, 2000).
1.4 Statement of the problem
In the existing era of Globalization one might reason that attainment of job should be stress-free, however, in practicality, accomplishment of a job is not all the time easy. Employers have become increasingly selective about whom they employ. While it has long been established that poor hiring judgments can be immensely costly to an organization, hard costs adjoining a bad hire have been calculated at 50-200% of the first year salary, is reliant on the employee level. Soft costs, including a loss of confidence in management's decision-making skill, potential destabilization of the workforce, and self-esteem problems may have far reaching adverse impact on the organization after a bad hire experience (Gupta et. al., 2007).
A crucial spot filled by a bad hire can setback an organization by years, in position of competitive advantage. The costs adjoining a bad hire can have substantial imprint on bottom-line results so a bad hire aftermaths are far more collective than most have realized. Putting the idea of employing right into logical context, Mark Murphy, CEO, Leadership IQ while talking about published, three-year study of new hire success rates confirmed that it happens frequently, Leadership IQ, a Washington-based research firm, surveyed 5,000 plus hiring managers from 312 organizations involved in more than 20,000 new hire events. 46% of those 20,000 new hires failed within the first 18 months out of which 11% of those failures were due to a lack of technical or professional competence. The huge share of failed hires were linked to softer issues, such as a lack of coachability (26%), low levels of emotional intelligence (23%), motivation problems (15%), and temperament issues (17%). Almost one half of new hires fall short of expectations, predominantly because of fit issues, rather than technical competence (Grigoryev, 2006). The study indicated that there are clearly areas of competency that have not been successfully investigated through the interview process (Grigoryev, 2006).
According to Graduate Prospects, the trading subsidiary of the charity HECSU, Practically two-thirds (64%) of available job opening are open to graduates from any discipline. This exposes the fact that employers are looking for vital soft skills in graduates which are achieved during study and periods of work experience, rather than degree-specific knowledge (Raybould & Sheedy, 2005).
Hiring managers are well aware that talent management is the key resource mandatory for achieving and sustaining a competitive edge, yet, finding the right person to fit the right job is a thought-provoking business. Few hiring managers can state to have never experienced the penalties contiguous a bad hire judgment. The costs are huge and the lessons painfully learned (Grigoryev, 2006). Prevailing deviations in the work setting, advise that soft skills will be of growing importance to managers in the future. Individual will need interpersonal competencies such as, the ability to detect and respond to the sentiments and emotional state of others, as well as the talent to support others to manage their emotions in a rapidly technically and socially changing world. Research suggests that individuals having profound soft skills will be the most valued and wanted by the corporate world (Sternberg & Williams, 1998).
1.6 Research objectives
The objectives of this study are as follows:
The determine the importance of the soft skills from the point of view of employers/ Top Executives
To determine the soft skills that the employers expect to seek in the employees.
To determine the most important set of soft skills that every business graduate need to incorporate
1.7 Research Questions
Following research questions are formulated to address the main focus of the research:-
R1: Are employers interested in soft skills?
R2: Identifying important soft skills that employers look for when recruiting employees.
R3: Identifying the most important skill set for employers.
1.8 Significance of the Study
Employers today are not willing to hire potential employees who do not meet their recruiting criteria. Employers are looking for the candidate with the proper skills, including soft skills (Moss & Tilly, 2001). Labor economists have noted a prevalent modification in work organization toward increased employee involvement and teamwork (Lindbeck & Snower, 2000). Fan (2005) and associates maintains convincingly that, relative to academic talent, soft skills are increasingly important factor in workplace success (Fan et. al., 2005).
These statements recognized that it takes a blend of skills to succeed as an organization however, Raybould & Sheedy (2005) states that employers are willing to pass by job candidates who have high technical skills and low soft skills to decide on for the applicants who display a developed understanding of soft skills. Hence this study will be an attempt to help the graduates to know about the important soft skills that are essential, and that they need to possess. It would be helpful for human resource recruiters to identify the types of soft skills that they need to look for in the employees. While identifying the significance of soft skills, the study will attempt to create further knowledge that will be an addition in academic knowledge.
1.9 Definition of terms
In the past few years, research has been conducted and employers have been asked the skills they want to see in employees. Time after time the results remain consistent. The soft skills are in demand (Buhler, 2001). Soft skills encompass many behavioral qualities and show a discrepancy by definition from one person to another. Many authors have written about development of soft skills (Pulko & Parikh, 2003). Whitmore & Fry (1974) defined soft skills as important job-related skills that involve little or no interaction with machines and whose application on the job is quite generalized. Soft skills complement hard skills and fulfill an important role in shaping individual's (Schulz, 2008). Studies have suggested that no generic model or set of indicators for the measurement of soft outcomes can be 'fit for purpose' across all learning aims and groups of learners (ECOTEC 1998; Dewson et. al., 2000; Lloyd & O'Sullivan, 2003), yet it impossible to devise a universally applicable set of employability skills, concluding that requirements are dependent on job type, industry sector and career stage. Therefore there have been many attempts to build up taxonomy of soft skills and describe the underlying dimensions of competencies. Still, no large consensus has been reached yet. Approaches differ with regard to the number of dimensions as well as the level of abstraction of analysis, although soft skills are composed of a number of distinct proficiencies, most agree they share certain basic characteristics (Martin, 2008; Martin et. al., 2008). A central theme to what is contained within or under the soft skills umbrella is as follows:
Personal Competencies: The elements of personal competence includes skills like Self-awareness, emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment self-confidence, self-regulation, self-control, trustworthiness conscientiousness, adaptability (Carmeli, 2003).
Social Competencies: Social competencies is gauged through Relationship management skills, people development skills, leveraging diversity skills (Carmeli, 2003).
Social Skills: Individuals social skills comprise of influencing, Communication, Leadership, Change catalyst, Conflict resolution, negotiating, Building bonds, Collaboration and cooperation, Team capabilities (Carmeli, 2003).
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking refers to higher order thinking that questions assumptions (Brookfield, 2003). It is an intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action (Scriven & Paul, 1987). Critical thinking is the mainstay of the most essential workplace skills, and is a strong attribute in people with good analysis and problem-solving skills, ability to learn quickly, creativity and potential for career advancement (Chartrand et. al, 2009).
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Teamwork Skills: Work is conducted in teams at a high proportion of companies that come from various areas, have various sizes and various kinds of organizational cultures. Almost everyone has at some time in their careers been confronted with the challenge of completing a task efficiently within a team. Efficient teamwork depends on the presence of team skills of each member. These also comprise communication skills that are necessary to organize effective and satisfying interactions with coworkers, colleagues, suppliers and customers. Teamwork is getting more and more important in the work-place. It has become highly popular over the last decades (Legree, 1995).
Planning & Organization Skills: Planning & Organization covers a broad cluster of abilities and capabilities related to persistence and purposeful striving towards goals as well as being self-organized and using the right tools to organize time (Day et al., 2000). Planning & organization skills are essential for coping with everyday tasks and objectives in general and job-related issues in particular. It can be cut down into various narrower traits and behavioral styles. Elements are for instance self-discipline, striving for perfection, carefulness, effective time management, thoroughness, organization, deliberation and will to achieve (Stoeber & Otto, 2006).
Leadership Skills: Leadership is one of the oldest research fields and often lies in the focus of assessment centers or other methods of personnel development and coaching programs (Bass & Stogdill, 1990). It encompasses the ability to influence and enable others to contribute toward the success of their work unit or organization. Leadership skills enable successful managers to interact effectively with their coworkers, motivate employees, manage projects, delegate tasks and be a good representative of their respective company (Bass, 1998).
Conflict Management Skills: Conflict management is an important competence for social life, in particular at the work-place (Gross and Thompson, 2007). "To have common mission/purpose, shared values and goals, agreements and policies clear and in writing, fair, participatory decision-making process, creating community spirit, buddy system, wisdom circles, staying in touch with each other emotionally, adopting communication agreements consist of: not speaking until another person is finished speaking, addressing each other respectfully, no hurtful physical contact, â€¦ bring in an outside mediator, serving as kindly "fair witnesses" in meetings between community members in conflict, active listening, nonviolent communication, process work, voice dialogue and another cases are the ways for handling conflict" (Weber et al., 2004).
Creativity: Creativity is especially important in an employee empowered workplace where employees must problem solve. Creativity is often described as a thinking skill or at least as an important aspect of thinking that can and should be fostered (Buhler, 2001). Creativity is also commonly cited as a much needed soft skill. Buhler says, "Those employees who are creative will contribute extraordinary efforts to today's organization and will help outline the vision of tomorrow's organization. Companies have learned that they cannot conduct business the same way they did even ten years ago. Today's changing environment requires companies to adapt to the current world. This means employing people who 'think outside the box'" (Buhler, 2001).
Communication Skills: Communication is the transmission of meaning from one person to another or to many people, whether verbally or non-verbally. Communication from one person to another is commonly depicted as a simple triangle consisting of the context, the sender, the massage, and the receiver (Hoggatt, 2003). Hoggatt (2003) claimed that communication skills are essential for success; consequently, students should be provided with skills that prospective employers are seeking. Wilson (2003) agreed and observed that business courses should provide students with the necessary skills to conduct business research while developing the analytical thinking and communication skills of students.
1.10 Organization of the Remainder of the Thesis
The remainder of the study is ordered into four chapters. Chapter 2 comprises of literature review of associated scholarly research and articles repossessed from either peer reviewed publications or scholarly periodicals. Chapter 3 will discuss the methodology that is used for this study, and chapter 4 will project the study findings. Conclusions, contribution and recommendations of the study will be discussed in chapter 5.
2.0 Chapter Overview
Chapter 2 presents research relevant to this study. The review of literature includes the introduction (section 2.1), theoretical background (Section 2.2) (section 2.3), research related to this study (section 2.4) (section 2.5) (section 2.6), gap identification (section 2.7) and the summary of the chapter (section 2.8).
A review of contemporary scholarly research exposed studies that directly address the topic of the need for people skills in the workplace. The literature shows that the lack of soft skills is not a new problem, or one that has recently been discovered, instead it is a problem that has been around for decades, and as of yet still remains an area where more research is required for employees to reach the soft skill competency level that employers are looking for (Cummings, 1990; Buhler, 2001; Elliot et. al., 1994, Golob, 2002; Grigoryev, 2006; Nakayma & Sutcliffe, 2001; Raybould & Sheedy, 2005).
A compound labor market has been created due to the multilayered twenty-first century business world; consequently, organizations are looking for adaptable individuals, who own professional criterions, even for entry-level employments. Conferring to Christopher (2006), companies want graduates with tough interpersonal skills. Berkseth (2004) stated that many businesses are beginning to start industry based accreditations that help recognize the skills that persons need for success.
James and James (2004) stressed that soft skills are becoming enormously significant to companies. Many scholars approve that twenty-first century companies are looking for soft skills in prospective employees. Some of these skills comprise active communication, trustworthiness and reliability, teamwork ability, interpersonal skills, creativity, work ethic, innovative thinking, high self-esteem, leadership capabilities, and basic business manners (Evenson, 1999; Glenn, 2003; Hall, 2003; Perreault, 2004; Wilhelm, 2004). While these skills are reflected as extremely significant, Wilhelm explained that companies find these soft skills most deficient in entry-level workforces. Glenn (2008) stated that even though maximum new hires hold extraordinary hard skills, the same individuals severely lack in the area of soft skills.
2.2 Theoretical Background
This research is grounded in human capital theory. Human capital theory deals with both hard and soft skills, this study will focus only on the soft skill aspect of the human capital theory. The human capital theory states that the value of education comes from soft skills accumulated in the college years. This includes any knowledge gained outside the classroom and coursework. For example, a student might learn effective study skills, or he might learn leadership skills from participating on a sports team. Soft human capital includes the value of developing a strong, successful social network (Becker, 1962). According to Schultz (1961), human capital is a theory which demonstrated the role of investment in education in order to increase economic and social successes. Investment can be viewed as a protagonist that formulate facilities or that put financial contribution to nurture the quality of education. Education on the other hand is a procedure to generate potential and talent. In other words, education is also envisioned to train, discipline and expose one's ability (Linder & Smith, 1992). This explains that education and the growth of productive workers among students is a form of human investment (Linder & Smith, 1992; Schultz, 1961)
Schultz (1961) also stressed out that stocking in education is not a waste. In fact it is very beneficial to upsurge workers' productivity and a nation's economy. This is because education development among the employees will harvest quality workforces as well will help in increasing production of the country. The result could be seen in term of its economical gain headed for the nation. Becker (1962; 1975) held that the height of employees production have positive relationship with the educational form. The higher the education a person gets, the higher the productivity achievement of an individual.
Becker (1975) described that education acknowledged through knowledge delivery and useful skill presentations would be able to upsurge employees' efficiencies and at the same time lead to the growth of incomes which could improve employees' life. Besides that, employees' education has a significant relationship with the level of production. This is because education is lifetime learning process and act as the base to produce qualified and skilled human capital.
Apart from that, human capital is also subject to influence one's level of development, behavior, and stability that could bring accomplishment in the field that the person is involved (Becker, 1975). According to Lange and Topel (2006), a person with great skills will be able to rise employers or the workplace productivity. Therefore, the application of human capital towards every person will most likely increase economic productivity.
Research places stress on the usage of human capital theory in order to constitute soft skills required by current employers. Human capital theory simplifies that the creation and application of soft skills at this point in time would leave an obvious impact on students who will soon enter the working world (Buck & Barrick, 1987).
2.3 Human Capital Theory
The concept of human capital was first anticipated by Jacob Mincer (1958), later advanced by Theodore Schultz (1961) and Gary Becker (1962). According to them, Human capital is the store of valued skills, knowledge and intuitions, organized by an individual wherein the characteristics become valuable in the economic context. This stock of skills may produce labour and management services. Human capital is similar to that of physical capital like machinery or factories and is defined as the knowledge, competency, attributes and skills embodied in individuals facilitating the creation of personal, social and economic well-being (Lange & Topel, 2006). It is intangible embodied in individuals and is constructed indirectly moreover it cannot be disposed of or sold to others. It consists of hard skill and also personalized soft skill (Foss, 2008). In the earlier times, education was measured as a consumption good, in that its key function was one of assisting the lifelong learning (Becker, 1962). Foss (2008) opinions out, progression of human capital takes place through a continuously compassionate process which motivates and allows individuals to secure knowledge, values, skills and understanding they need at the workplace.
Knowledge is an innate part of human capital development and includes knowing about facts and collecting information to do something. know-what, know-why, know-how and know-who can be reflected as diverse stages of knowledge development (Wiig, 1997). "Know-what" discusses knowledge about facts and is referred to the stage where information is broken down into bits and is communicated as data. "Know-why", which is crucial for technological development is referred to scientific knowledge. "Know-how" is the ability to do something and is related to the skills and ability to perform actions. "Know-who" which is socially embedded undertakes information about "who know-what" and "who know-how to do what" (Wiig, 1997). Know-how and know-who are principally tacit knowledge and therefore difficult to measure. Know-what and know-why are easily to quantify while know-how and know-who requires learning process that comprises of social practices (Wiig, 1997). Up gradation of skills and learning experiences to exploit the above characteristics of knowledge leads to up-gradation of human capital through formal education, constant and lifelong learning to match labour supply and demand in terms of skill requirements.
Since the emphasis of the thesis is on soft skills, we shall consider this aspect in some detail. Soft skills not only nourish hard skills and create new opportunities, but also help to improve personal development and ethics in professionalism (Stasz et. al., 1996). Dressner and Fleischer (2002) have stressed upon the significance of soft skills for beginners and in any workplace and how organizations give due importance to the individual who possess these skills.
According to Simpson (2009), soft skill is an aptitude or competence, any inherent or acquired which can be repetitively executed. It is a skill which can be tested and evaluated through its performance only, and can be established, learnt, trained, educated or coached but acquired only by executing them and can be improved through repetition and practice. Moss and Tilly (1995) opinion soft skills "as expertise, capabilities and traits that relate to character, attitude and performance rather than to formal or technical knowledge". These skills refer to a person's psychological qualities, social styles and other behavioral patterns like motivation, communication, team work and confidence. The significance of the soft skills develops from the demand by managers who are eyeing for the non-technical skills in the individuals which assist interaction with others (Schick, 2000). People who lack soft skills get fired when they don't work in the parallel need or requirements of what the employers want form them. (Fan et al., 2005).
2.4 Not having soft skills is expensive to companies
Today's firms face financial and market challenges which leave slight edge for inefficiency, as an outcome, employers believe employees to be prompt in job skills from the day they first walk into the workplace. Companies are not only eyeing for new employees who have decent soft skills, they are progressively proposing programs to existing employees to improve soft skills, possibly that is because sometimes the risk fa
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