Soft Skills

The latest statewide survey by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce is out. The survey asked employers about their recruiting practices, about their training and continuing education offerings, and about the skills needed in their workforce. Of the 532 employers participating, 39% said they’ve recently left jobs unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. The survey found that the most difficult skills to find were “soft skills”, skills that aren’t assessed in an educational setting. 55% of the respondents said that work ethic was the skill that was missing the most. Attendance and punctuality were issues with 42% of employers.


I’m just going to pose a question to everyone. Why do you suppose work ethic, attendance, and punctuality are such problems today? I have an idea. See what you think. When I was in school, grade school all the way through high school, being at school was my job. The only time we missed school when I was a kid was if there was a whole lot of snow, or we were sick in bed. Not feeling a little under the weather either, I mean sick in bed. Kids learned that what they did was important, even if it was just going to school. We never took vacation, or family trips, or anything else that interfered with my sister and me being in school, on time, every day.

Not so today, or even when my kids were in school. Then kids could skip school just by getting a parent’s permission. Families took vacations during the school year, and parents and teachers would let them “make up” the work. In other words doing the work when presented, on time, wasn’t given that much importance. When those same kids got jobs, is it any wonder they figured they could call in “sick” for a ball game, or concert, or just because they didn’t feel like working that day?

Work ethic isn’t taught anymore. Mostly because there aren’t enough parents willing to teach it. What kind of lesson about work ethic and responsibility is it teaching, when a parent blows off work right in front of their kids, or a parent doesn’t show up to pick up their kids for a weekend visit, or a parent misses paying their child support? A bad lesson. And if you think your kids aren’t learning from those lessons you’re sadly mistaken.

Don’t even get me started on punctuality. How can we expect kids today to understand the worth of being to work on time, when as part of a family they frequently don’t get where they’re going on time; church, school, work, or anyplace else. Think about it. How many of us actually expect to have people show up late these days?

If you want your kids to be qualified for today’s jobs, take the time to teach them the value of work ethic, attendance, punctuality, and responsibility. If you’re not being a good example, don’t get too upset when they’re still living in your basement well into their 20s or 30s. It will likely be because they don’t have the “soft skills” to make it in the workplace.


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