Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Students need soft and hard skills to survive

Sep 26. 2018
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By KORNRAWEE PANYASUPPAKUN
THE NATION

Maths, science will help, but right attitude is also needed for a ‘disruptive world’

TEACHERS HAVE to help their students develop soft skills, a good personality and the right attitude as disruptive technology is threatening the future of the human workforce. 

The government has been promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as it believes these subjects will prepare youngsters for the uncertain future job scene and supply the country with innovators – from pharmaceutical and food scientists, to product designers and software engineers. 

This is understandable, as most manual and factory jobs will soon become automated, leaving many Thais without a job. 

However, STEM subjects are purely hard skills and only a third of what students need in this destructive world, Silchai Kiatpapan, CEO of Pico (Thailand), explained.

He was speaking at a press conference held in Bangkok’s Sukosol Hotel yesterday to announce EDUCA 2018 – a seminar organised by Pico (Thailand) titled “Value of Teachers”, which will focus on the role of teachers in this digital age. The event will be held from October 17 to 19 at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani. 

He said the remaining skills of 21st-century citizens was competency and character qualities, such as problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication, grit, social awareness and curiosity. Such skills are also important for life-long learning as new breakthroughs and innovations will start making many skills obsolete. 

“These qualities need to be fostered and learnt, and the main actor who can do this is the teacher, not a robot,” he said. 

Hard skills are important for entry-level jobs, but soft skills are essential to rise higher and become leaders, Oranuch Lerdsuwankij, CEO and co-founder of Techsauce Media, said, while soft skills are interpersonal skills that are not job-specific and cannot be measured by exams.

Soft skills like leadership and collaboration are really important, but more often than not, schools leave them to extra curricular activities, she said. Teachers need to bring soft-skills into the classroom by adopting a project-based approach, one that “gives students a problem and lets them brainstorm for solutions”, she advised. 

Thanita Phucanatnaranubala said teachers should not just teach the right skills, but also the right attitude. Thanita, as part of the Teach for Thailand organisation, has taught in many troubled areas in Thailand. She said many students she met have low self-esteem. 

“Many tell me they are stupid, that things are beyond their ability,” she said. “But as a teacher, as a human, we must make the students believe in their abilities.” 

Funnily though, less than a third of the teachers believe their profession is valued by others, the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey in 34 countries shows. 

Hence, it is necessary for teachers to first prepare themselves for a disruptive world, before they can inspire their students and get them ready to face an uncertain future. 

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