Student Perceptions of Soft Skills as an Indicator of Workplace Success
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Students need a variety of skills both basic academic skills and technical knowledge in order to be successful in the workplace. Work ethic is comprised of a combination of hard skills (the technical skills needed to obtain a job) and soft skills (the personality traits and career attributes needed to keep the job and develop a career over time). This qualitative case-study dissertation in practice explores perceptions of soft skills as an indicator of workplace success for students in a two-year technical college. The researcher reviewed literature to outline the skilled labor demands in the United States, employment expectations of new entrants to the workforce, and social-emotional research in order to understand the ability for individuals to develop the skills in the two year college environment. The researcher conducted semi-structured open-ended interviews and reviewed journal submissions submitted in the PDV 105 Blueprint for Personal Success course. Findings of the study included all respondents indicating a positive perception of soft skills as an indicator of workplace success. Themes emerging from the study included respondents’ desire to understand employers’ expectations with regard to soft skills, the desire for support in navigating the high-stakes working environment of skilled labor positions and the need for students to demonstrate a willingness to learn and develop soft skills as they gain experience in the workforce. The study concludes with a series of conclusions and recommendations for two-year institutions to consider as they seek to develop a soft skills training program to integrate in the context of a technical college environment.
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