For this post, we are featuring a guest blog from Amanda Opperman of Wonderlic, Inc. When the Lab hosted one of many design sessions with colleges, universities and employers for our #BadgingChallenge, we met Charlie Wonderlic and Amanda Opperman from the Wonderlic assessment company, perhaps best known for doing pre-employment testing for the NFL. Wonderlic is moving into badging for 21st century skills and has become one of our thought partners. The Lab’s founder, Kathleen deLaski, is participating in a webinar on Tuesday, May 3, 12 noon ET, with Amanda and other thought leaders called “The Hard Facts about Soft Skills,” where Amanda will share Wonderlic’s hot-off-the-press survey with employers about how they want to assess those skills. She has provided us with a short blog to give our network a “sneak peek.” You can register for the webinar here.

I’ve written previously about the communication gap that is often mistaken for skills gaps. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t skills gaps that continue to negatively impact hiring for employers, educators, and job seekers. Providing hiring guidance to employers large and small across the nation, Wonderlic has a pretty good vantage of the challenges facing all those involved in the process. And, frankly, these challenges can’t be solve by just one group – it’s got to be a team effort.

That’s why we’re working with a group of committed leaders in employment and education to contribute to the solutions that will help bridge the gap. Specifically, there is a group comprised of business owners, HR Directors, Chief Academic Officers, and State Workforce Development Directors working to address the soft skills gap by providing guidance around definitions, clarity, and training of these skills that are the competitive edge in the job market. This group has been labeled as the Soft Skills Training Steering Committee (SSTSC).

“80% of employers…would prefer to hire a candidate with high competency-based assessment results over a student with high GPA.” 

Why start with soft skills? 1) The Department of Labor refers to soft skills as the competitive edge because soft skills are so crucial to hiring, retention, and promotion of employees, and 2) In a nationwide survey of over 300 employers and educators, national employment advisor Wonderlic has identified some rather large gaps in these two groups’ perceptions of soft skills that can be solved by the work the committee has already embarked upon.

Key insights from the survey:

  • While 62% of educators feel that their school has a good understanding of the types of soft skills that employers value when making hiring decisions, an overwhelming 86% of employers believe that educators need to work more closely with employers to better align graduates’ soft skill needs with actual workplace needs.
  • Meanwhile, 84% of employers are completely unaware of the soft skills training that schools currently provide to their students.
  • Finally, for those schools still on the competency-based fence, 80% of employers stated they would prefer to hire a candidate with high competency-based assessment results over a student with high GPA.

Several key members of the SSTSC will host a webinar on May 3rd at 12:00pm ET to dive deeper into these challenges, opportunities to address them, and the results of the survey described above. Those interested in joining Scott Ellsworth, former Director of Business Leaders United for Workplace Partnerships, Kathleen deLaski, Founder of Education Design Lab, and Amanda Opperman, Senior Institutional Effectiveness Specialist at Wonderlic for the webinar may click here to register now.