The Importance of Soft Skills in the Special Needs Population
Soft skills are the everyday interpersonal skills that employees need to succeed on the job. Soft skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and adaptability enable one to express ideas, plan, organize, understand directions, and get along with others. Soft skills are far more important than pure academic and technical skills training for success in today’s society, especially for special needs students who may struggle in the area of social and emotional development. According to the National Soft Skills Association, 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).
These are the soft skills employers are looking for:
When sharing ideas and asking questions, the ability to get one’s message across effectively is extremely important. Whether it be between an employee and manager, or employee and customer, strong communication skills are vital to job performance.
Getting along with others goes a long way toward workplace success. Many jobs involve working as a team, listening to one another, and seeing each other’s point of view. This requires important social skills such as making eye contact, good manners, and active listening. It also requires professionalism: being prepared, showing up on time, and treating others with respect.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Many jobs require employees to make connections between ideas, draw conclusions, make predictions, determine if their predictions are correct, and then use data to support their claim. Sometimes solving a problem requires looking at it from a different perspective, or there may be multiple ways to successfully solve the problem. Workers must make decisions not just based on what they think or feel, but on scientific data that supports the best solution.
Today’s employees must embrace the idea that it’s OK to fail multiple times before they succeed. When they fail, special needs students may act out their frustration in inappropriate ways, so it is especially useful for them to learn how to be resilient in the face of setbacks.
We are working with students every day in school to teach these essential soft skills. Depending on your child’s ability, community-based work experience at offices, retail stores, restaurants, or libraries may be an option for developing and practicing soft skills.
Social events are also tremendously helpful to develop interpersonal skills. Since soft skills are such important drivers of success in school and in adult life, every little bit of practice helps.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— John Gonzalez, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ