Hard talk on soft skills


Date: 5th Feb 2018

In his first public speech since taking up the post, the new Minster of Education, Damian Hinds, said at the opening of this year’s Education World Forum in London that schools needed to prepare people for a shifting jobs market - and the importance of skills in communication and developing character.

At Bucks New University, Vic Davies, a Senior Lecturer in Bucks Business School, said this attitude now also pervades the approach adopted across courses.

He writes:

‘In an age when digital technology is increasingly disrupting all aspects of our lives, from how we communicate, to how we shop, to redefining what is truth and what is fact, how can we  define what the future may hold?

This is crucial as we reach key decision-making points in our lives. So for many young people it raises the critical question of ‘just what skills will I need to succeed in the future?’

Well, the new Minster of Education, Damian Hinds, said at the opening of this year’s Education World Forum in London that so-called soft skills, like social and emotional intelligence, would become vital as nine out of ten new jobs created require digital skills.

What does this mean and what are the implications for those about to embark on choosing a university?

At Bucks Business School we have been aware of this for some time. When we first started teaching digital it was a standalone subject. Now it pervades everything we do across all the courses we run in the school. Moreover we are fully aware that in many sectors digital technology is increasingly replacing a human labour force with robotics and automated systems, as seen in the latest development by Amazon of an automated shop and voice recognition devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Major.

Research studies are predicting that up to 40 per cent of old-style process jobs will disappear, whilst other research indicate these type of developments will also begin to impact on some aspects of the so-called ‘professions’, such as law and medicine.  

As we state at the beginning of our film, https://vimeo.com/232653162, we have looked at what this means when developing fit for purpose business executive graduates. We aim to ensure they are not just knowledgeable in a particular area of business but also have the soft skills to meet the vast changes that disruptive digital technology is causing in the way they work now and in to the future.  

So whilst students studying for an accredited Accountancy qualification, or Marketing students taking a Chartered Institute of Marketing-accredited module, or Business students becoming members of the Chartered Management Institute, will all have specialist skills, they will all be well-versed in how to use these alongside the soft skills the Minister wants.

We are underpinning all our courses with what we define these soft skills as, ensuring our students understand the need to think creatively, can problem solve and, whether face-to-face, or virtually, can work effectively in teams.

This means our students know the real world and particularly the digital world is forever changing and that this often means the theory and the textbook is not enough and is often out-of-date.

We prepare our students by getting them to work on live briefs, by working on real-world projects with real clients, and learn how to handle sudden and unexpected situations to create new and better solutions for clients and organisations.  

Does it work? Well here are some companies that our graduates work at and some of the positions they hold:


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