It seems all you hear  talk about these days is the need for skilled, STEM and high-tech candidates. A recent article by the Washington Post titled, Forget coding. It’s the soft skills, stupid. And that’s what schools should be teachingstates that while software development skills are desired by employers the skill that is much more in demand is the ability to communicate.

This is a discussion we have frequently around the office, while we need individuals that understand PR, digital, marketing and design; what we need the most is those that are able to problem solve, be empathetic, lead, show gratitude, work in teams and more.

Soft skills, as defined by the dictionary, are: personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

Let’s just step back a minute and reflect on how we got to the point where job candidates are unable to think independently, interact with other humans and are incapable of saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please.’

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychology professor, has found that praising children for their intelligence, rather than for their effort, often leads them to give up when they encounter the unknown. It’s much better, in her opinion, to compliment children for their persistence. People perform better when they can focus on things they can control rather than things they cannot.

When I entered the workforce, I took a blue collar upbringing and mentality and applied it to a white collar job. I was told to work smarter, not harder – which went against everything I was taught growing up. I watched my dad work 30+ years as a pipe fitter at GM, where he took on a leadership position in the union. He worked harder and smarter – it wasn’t an either/or scenario.

Todays college graduates struggle with problem solving, if the answer or solution isn’t readily available to them they give up. If they can’t find the answer digitally, it must not exist.

We are handicapping the current and future generations by overfilling their days with structured play or organized activities – gone are the days where you were told to use your imagination. Our parents didn’t care if we were bored, we were told to figure it out, occupy our own time and if there was an issue or argument with other kids – solve it.

Showing up for your job will not earn you a trophy, it earns you a paycheck. My advice to college graduates is work harder and smarter than the rest and ALWAYS say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’

And to the parents raising little, let them be bored, tell them to use their imaginations and limit their interaction with devices and technology. The world doesn’t hand out trophies for paying your bills and showing up for the job you were hired for.

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