Hard and soft skills for career preparation

Hard skills and soft skills are important for youth to learn to prepare for their future.

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As youth benefit from learning in school and participating in activities, there are two types of skills that are developed for career preparation: hard skills and soft skills. According to Investopedia, hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs. A hard skill is a trade or a vocation that youth learn as they are in school or learn as a result participating in extra-curricular activities. Hard skills can be reflected in a student’s grade point average. These are great skills to have because they can lead to scholarships for higher education that are judged by performance-based measures. They can lead to a successful career as well.

Youth having hard skills is important for their success. However as adults, whether we are parents, teachers, coaches or youth development workers, let’s remember to teach youth some of the soft skills for future success. According to Investopedia, soft skills are the character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relations with other people. BusinessDictionary.com gives examples of soft skills such as communicating, conflict management, human relations, making presentations, negotiating and team building.

According to Work It Daily, these are the top six critical soft skills desirable for employers:

  1. Honesty and integrity
  2. Strong work ethic
  3. Emotional intelligence
  4. Self-motivated
  5. High energy/positive attitude
  6. Team player

Hard skills and soft skills work together for career preparation. Both sets of skills are needed to help youth prepare for a successful future. Although these skill sets are different, they complement each other when starting and maintaining a career.

Through Michigan State University Extension, Michigan 4-H Youth Development has resources to help build the hard skills from different project areas such as animal science, the arts (performing arts and visual arts), communications, environmental and outdoor education, money management, gardening and science and engineering

To help youth develop the soft skills to complement the hard skills, get youth involved in community service and team-building activities and utilize the resources from Michigan 4-H Citizenship, Leadership and Service and Michigan 4-H Community Service and Service Learning.

While both sets of skills are important, as adults let’s find a way or continue to incorporate both sets of skills into our programs for teaching youth. Let’s search for and utilize the resources that can help build these skills and prepare youth for a successful career.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

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