Soft Skills

By Nifaosan Raden Ahmad

Although this semester has started since last month, it is not too late to say welcome back to UUM for all returning students in the new semester 2019/2020 session (A191). This semester comes out with the good news that some of our friends will attend the 32rd convocation ceremony during October 19-23, 2019. I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to all graduates. After this time, some of them might decide to study further in the higher degrees whereas some may run their own businesses or work as employees.

Nowadays, the term ‘soft skills’ plays a main role in recruiting the employees that employers expect to consider the skills before hiring them as professional employees. I heard the term firstly when I enrolled the seminar was conducted by the UUM library since last semester inviting Prof. Dr. Mohamad Akram Laldin–the executive director of International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA)–as the main keynote speaker.

I realize that today all employers have paid attention more on the soft skills due to it can help employees deal effectively with people across sections in the organizational firms as well as customers rather than focusing merely on technical skills or hard skills. The soft skills refer to individual traits and abilities that would characterize how a person interacts with others concerning skills in communication, problem solving, teamwork, interpersonal skills, accountability, enthusiasm, integrity, and knowledge capacity [1].

According to a study was conducted in Malaysia to assess the levels of soft skills among trainees from the Malaysian advanced technology training center (ADTEC) revealed that skills of teamwork was highest rated and followed by skills of leadership, communication, and problem solving respectively [2]. Thus, these skills are highly recommended by employers as important skills in recruiting employees that all of us must be trained and improved as much as we can during practicum in the last semester particularly undergraduate students before completing their study from UUM.

In addition, a study was conducted in Thailand by our colleague, Dr. Sumontha Wongngam, who has just completed her PhD in Education in this year and intends to attend the convocation ceremony as well [3]. The study aimed to identify the importance of 21st century career skills for undergraduate students by collecting data from deans, employers, and alumni who graduated from five universities located in Songkhla Province, Thailand. The results revealed that problem solving skills and interpersonal skills were highest rated by three groups of participants and the most important skills.

Interestingly, since soft skills are referred to social skills, improving soft skills can help against depression particularly among university students as well. A study was conducted in Yogyakarta, Indonesia among college students with the aim to investigate the role of social skills on depression tendency which found that there was a negative significant relationship between social skills and depression tendency [4].

It can be interpreted that poor social skills can increase the depression tendency among college students. Based on this, skills in problem solving, interpersonal or teamwork, communication, and leadership are important for us that should be added in the curriculum in the future in order to improve the soft skills. Employers will strongly consider graduates with high soft skills if compared to those who have not. Besides, soft skills play a role in depression tendency that improving the skills can decrease the tendency of depression.

[Photo Credit: www.phrenimos.com]

[1] Ab Manan, S. K., Saison, R., Ishak, A. H., & Sahari, N. H. (2018). Competency skills of graduating Islamic finance students. The Turkish Online Journal of Design, Art and  Communication, 1420-1426.

[2] Amiruddin, M. H., Ngadiman, N., Abdul Kadir, R., & Saidy, S. (2016). Review of soft skills of TVET trainees from the Malaysian advanced technology training center (ADTEC). Journal of Technical Education and Training, 8(1), 14-24.

[3] Sumontha, W. (2019). A framework for career skills as perceived by employers, deans, and university alumni in Songkhla Province, Thailand. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia.

[4] Fauziyyah, A., & Ampuni, S. (2018). Depression tendencies, social skills, and loneliness among college students in Yogyakarta. Jurnal Psikologi, 45(2), 98-106.