Why Must We Train In Soft Skills?


According to Margaret Mead, an anthropologist, we are living in a post-figurative society. Thanks to the onslaught of technology, our children figure out things before adults do. So, in a society where the young know more than their elders, what can we teach them?

We must give them the timeless skills like soft skills. We must give them the principles to live a life fully equipped for problem solving. Two more reasons why soft skills are amazing. They never go out of style. And no reskilling is needed.



Knowledge Economy And The Future Of Work:


In this digital age of information overload, there is a greater need to teach our kids how to process information and how to make sense of it rather than giving them more information via curriculum.

Technologies in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, UX (User experience) design are rapidly evolving. In fact, they are evolving at an exponential rate. As a workforce, if we want to stay relevant, we need to be constantly upskilling and reskilling ourselves.

Knowledge is becoming cheaper and less important. In the near future, nobody will hire us because of what we know. We will be hired for our abilities to think, create and solve problems with what we know.



Are We 21st Century Ready?


Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2015) has entered the workforce? Are they ready for it?! Here are the top 10 job market skills of 2020. Notice how none of them have anything to do with specific technology or hard skills.

1. Complex Problem Solving
2. Critical Thinking
3. Creativity
4. People Management
5. Coordinating with Others
6. Emotional Intelligence
7. Judgement and Decision Making
8. Service Orientation
9. Negotiation
10. Cognitive Flexibility
Source: Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum, 2018.



Impact of Character Education Programs:


Study after study, as shown here, have been showing the impact of good Social & Learning tools for children.

“One’s attitude, degree of motivation, and people skills constitute 85 percent of the reasons people get ahead and stay ahead. When a student comes to class with a positive outlook and an attitude that he can accomplish anything, then anything can be accomplished.”
Source: McElmeel, S.L. (2002). Character education: A book guide of teachers, librarians, and parents. Greenwood Village, CO: Teacher Ideas Press.

Return on Investment (ROI) of Social & Emotional Learning “In 2015, a report from Columbia University found that SEL interventions, including 4 Rs, Positive Action, Second Step and Social and Emotional Training (Sweden), returned an average of $11 for every $1 spent.” Source: Clive Belfield C., Bowden B., Klapp A., Levin H., Shand R., Zander S. Columbia University, 2015.

In 2015, a report from Columbia University found that SEL interventions, including 4 Rs, Positive Action, Second Step and Social and Emotional Training (Sweden), returned an average of $11 for every $1 spent.
Source: Clive Belfield C., Bowden B., Klapp A., Levin H., Shand R., Zander S. Columbia University, 2015.

A meta-analysis in 2017 shows that 3.5 years after their last SEL (social emotional learning) intervention, students fared an average of 13 percentile points better academically than their peers in control groups, based on 8 studies that measure academics. Additionally, researchers saw a reduction in problem behaviors, emotional distress, and drug use for students with SEL exposure.
Source: Taylor, R.D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J.A., & Weissberg, R.P. (2017). Promoting positive youth development through school-based social and emotional learning interventions: A meta-analysis of follow-up effects. Child Development, Volume 88 (4)



The Importance Of Divergent Thinking:


Our 21st Century children require lessons that encourage them to elaborate, explain and argue their way to problem solving.

Top skill: Leadership agility, the ability to take effective action in complex, rapidly changing conditions.
Source: OIGP Global Research Study, 2018.

It is the responsibility of parents, educators and our society to teach our children how to cope with “real life” by showing them how to create their own definitions for success and happiness. If we help our children understand the value in communication, collaboration and contribution, they will strive to live meaningful lives. This is more important, especially now in our digital age, where we are more connected than ever before and far more disconnected from each other in real life.

Divergent thinking encourages their little minds to demonstrate original and open minded thinking while helping them to become actively involved in learning concepts. This is different from passively consuming curriculum in classrooms.

At FutureSTRONG Academy, our lesson plans include activities which promote Divergent Thinking. We ask a lot of “What If” Questions, and do activities that encourage Brainstorming + Ideation to arrive at alternative solutions to the same issues.



Building A Whole Child:


Only one thing in the digital age we live in is certain. We’re surrounded by constant, rapid and unpredictable change.

Then, how do we then make sure we’re ready to face uncertainty in career and real life?

By learning skills like adaptability and resilience, we can meet challenges with easy when they arise. And they will. That’s how life is. Effective communication and clarity in thought will take you the extra mile when the rest of your peers have the same number of hard skill badges to show!

Unchecked anxiety and overwhelm in young children is turning into depression and lack of motivation as young adults. And a lot of the confusion comes from a lot of information being thrown at them from their personal devices – smart phones, tablets, Google, Wiki, YouTube etc etc. We need to equip our children with tools to process information that’s relevant and important to them.



How Does FutureSTRONG Academy Help?


At FutureSTRONG Academy, our mission is to raise the iGeneration children as resilient, decisive and compassionate adults.

FutureSTRONG Academy helps bring social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. It is an after school program that aims to teach essential life skills to kids like handling emotions, critical thinking, setting goals and making good decisions – all the while encouraging them to use their time and attention intentionally.

We are a parent advocate run organization that brings social, emotional and character development to homes, schools and communities. We feel like we cannot wait for educators (who are already overwhelmed with their day to day curriculum) and schools to teach our children essential life skills like decision making, problem solving and sustainable goal setting.


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About The Article Author:

Our mission with FutureSTRONG Academy – to grow children who respect themselves, their time and their capabilities in a world where distractions are just a click or a swipe away.

I see myself as an advocate for bringing social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. I never want to let this idea out of my sight – Our children are not just GPAs. I’m a Writer and a Certified Master Coach in NLP and CBT. Until 2017, I was also a Big Data Scientist. In December of 2044, I hope to win the Nobel. Namasté

Write to me or call me. Tell me what support from me looks like. 

Rachana Nadella-Somayajula,
Program Director & Essential Life Skills Coach for Kids and Busy Parents

The A To Z Of Essential Life Skills

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