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Role and Responsibilities of Universities on the Development of Soft Skills and Team Based Skills

What are Soft Skills? Soft Skills are a cluster of productive personality traits in one’s character....

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Posted by Dave Food on Jul 15, 2018 10:08:22 PM
Dave Food


What are Soft Skills?

Soft Skills are a cluster of productive personality traits in one’s character. These skills can include social styles, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits. Soft Skills are also defined as an umbrella term for skills under three vital functional elements: people skills, social skills, and personal career attributes. The National Business Education Association considers Soft Skills as critical for being industrious in today’s workplace.

Do universities have a role in Soft Skills development?

Some other defines the term Soft Skills as “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive, flexible attitude, cognitive or emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits.” Ibrc.indiana.edu

Hard skills complement also known as technical skills, for productive competencies workplace performance and everyday life competencies (Arkansas Department of Education).

Do universities have a role in Soft Skills development?

"A great University is defined by great academics, great researches, great thinkers and a great teacher, not by great administrators, great technology transferors, or even great leaders, although those of us in list two can help recruit and retain the significant people in list one." Mentioned (Dr Tim Cook, Non-Executive Director at Oxford Gene Technology at Oxford Gene Technology)

"The principal products of a great University are university teaching and curiosity-led research. A valuable by-product of university research is a range of commercial opportunities, inventions to commercialise, commercial companies, commercial labs, sole inventors, etc. It is an error to design a production plant to minimise the output of the by-product if this is detrimental to the quality of the principal products, so it is with universities. Tech transfer comes at the end of the research. Of course, the value then extracted must be mutilated but not at the expense of the prime mission," Dr Cook concluded.

Should universities have to try harder to meet the Commercial world’s demands for fully mature individuals - or is that the latter’s responsibility?

The quality and quantity of publications and lab work and technology transfer stimulate communication between Academia and Business cultures. However, most of the time, it is hard for the two to understand each other, but, almost always there are multilingual individuals in both places. Thus, mediators are required to start with, but it works better when they count on a real understanding of both cultures. If our intermediaries can convince these two parties to involve constructively, they will create productive partnerships.

Hire experts in both the vocabularies and venue systems of both Academia and Industry areas and who have both PhD, giving them experience and credibility in University research labs, and in companies to generate trust. By getting the two talking together, a constructive cross-cultural working relationship can be developed.

What do we mean by TBL?

According to the Innovation and Excellence in Learning Centre, “Team-based Learning (TBL) is an instructional method that puts students into roles of greater autonomy and responsibility for their learning. Some critical components of TBL are 1) permanent group with time to develop into a team, 2) a process to ensure individual student readiness for group work, and 3) assignment that require students to work collectively on rigorous applications of course content. TBL shares purpose and sense of collective responsibility.”

“An instructor creates the suitable conditions for active collaboration. Well-designed tasks plus strategic course design creates the conditions and environment to teach members to listen to one another, value each other’s contributions, learn from mistakes, harness in ineffective behaviour, and eventually trust in the team’s ability to outperform any given individual.”

TBL is now being used internationally in every academic discipline, on technical an applied field such as Medicine, Engineering and Business, also in Natural Science, Social Science, Humanities or in Trades Education. It is used as a tool that provides evidence that students will outperform and challenge them to higher levels than more traditional approaches. In TBL the control of content is desirable to many university instructors, as TBL courses can comfortably co-exist in an academic program with many traditional teaching practices.

Does Team-based Learning improve competency levels? The TBL method benefits (Vancouver Island University):

 Teams spend time together to learn to function as a team.

 Students learn to converge their different thinking in making a single collective decision.

 Students receive frequent and immediate feedback to make reflection among peers.

 Auto assessments.

 Teams clarify confusions and make them visible.

 Team responses to cases, problems, applications.

 Identify their employability skills.

 Soft Skills develop during students’ carriers.

 Help students Identifying their future.

 Makes it easy to figure out what employers want and need.

Soft Skills and TBL tools developed in universities make now a significant difference when looking for a job. A study conducted by Harvard University remarked that “80% of achievements in career are determinedly “Soft Skills” and 20% by hard skills.” Experts say Soft Skills training should begin for a person when they are students, to perform efficiently in their academic environment as well as n their future workplace. A public study conducted by McDonald's in the UK predicted over half a million people would be back from job sector by 2020 due to lack of Soft Skills.

As University of Sydney Business School mentioned: “It is through universities where students learn on how to make informed career choices; where tutors and employers value candidates and when graduated, offer them a position in the workplace. Mentoring Programs can help students to increase their business knowledge, academic and social network. Volunteering is a great way to get experience and add value to careers. Professional Associations are an excellent way to increase employability. Universities offer student membership, career advice, networking events and are a great way to take the first step into the Industry.

We have, for example, the Savvygoat Learning method, an institution where they promote collaboration, learning and time management in a competitive world while providing specifically designed tasks and challenges to help students get their businesses off the ground. Ongoing assessment of tasks, in addition to providing rigour points and feedback, measure performance, and support potential interventions.

COLLABORATION, structured face-to-face meetings, supporting team development and relationships, personal attendance, team communications are supported. RESILENCE-to overcomes when mistakes, misjudgments and mistiming occur. Team statistics and countdown timer to milestone deadlines create real pressure. PROACTIVITY - Optional tasks determined by the teams and team-based Challenges, combined with rigour points create the means for the teams to stand out and score highly.

The combination of the team determined optional tasks, team-based challenge activities and rigour point allocation create the means for teams to stand out and score highly.


Conclusions: Soft skills enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, performed well, and achieve their goals by complementing hard skills.

Private and public universities have been working in the development of Soft Skills in many ways, mainly, through collaborative and teamwork, in the creation of networking, communication, language skills, etc. The development of Soft Skills is commonly found in the curricula of different study plans of almost all careers. It allows universities to develop in the student, who eventually will be graduating, a cluster of skills and competencies which will facilitate their incorporation into the labour markets.

A University should work along with its students to face the business world, the entrepreneurs, innovation and creativity. A significant amount of the efforts is concentrated in the Business Incubator, the Business Accelerators, the simulation of study cases, and the participation in several international competencies which are aim to the constant practice of the students, so as when then return to their countries they can count on proven-real tools to link as soon as possible to the workforce. On the other hand, through linking areas and research it is viable to link the University with the Industry, Commerce and service through projects and direct consultancies, always allowing the participation on it of the students.

The collaborative team learning is essential for the development of competence and skill, as teams which participate in different courses of case simulation and business thoughtfully confirm so. In what also happens with the research development when research assistants (the students) are integrated into the collaborative learning process. It is a learning tool commonly present in almost all universities. The development of such competencies is nowadays indispensable. It is impossible to think of a university without the idea of not working Soft Skills.


Dave Food

Prophetic Technology





Special thanks:

(Jorge M. Aguirre Hernández, PhD, Head Coordinator of Law, Universidad Panamericana, Aguascalientes, México. (Consultant to Tecnológico de Monterrey, UDEM Universidad de Monterrey, Sistema Nacional de Investigadores Nivel 1.)


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