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Social skills important tool for school leavers
Published on: Sunday, June 19, 2022
By: YS Chan
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Credit: nurturepods.com
TO most employers, a general degree from a university is just a certificate printed on a piece of paper. At the workplace, only performance matters. But many fresh graduates are ill-prepared to compete or excel in their jobs and carve a successful career.

Graduates may have studied several years in a university or college, but their academic knowledge may be irrelevant to their employers or of little use in their jobs. 

Moreover, applying knowledge usually requires technical or communication skills to accomplish various tasks.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training graduates may have acquired specific skills needed to perform specialised work they were trained for, but those lacking in communication skills are likely to continue in the same job and remain stagnant in their career.

However, even those with industry-relevant knowledge, technical and communication skills could fail even at the pinnacle of their careers if they lack social values, which are grossly lacking in most graduates because these are not given due importance in our education system.

Without social values, a person is not truly educated. Sadly, this is lost even among the academics and tertiary institutions. 

Hence, our universities have churned out a huge number of undereducated and underemployed graduates that have benefitted little from higher education.

Values are principles that help us to determine what is right and wrong, and how to act or behave in various situations. While we may choose our own set of personal values, our social values must be in harmony with the local and international communities that we interact with. 

Social values include appreciation, compassion, fairness, freedom, honesty, humility, integrity, justice, kindness and selflessness. 

Their absence is replaced by disparagement, indifference, favouritism, subjugation, corruption, arrogance, deceit, lawlessness, hostility and selfishness.

To develop social values well, undergraduates should mix with a wide variety of people, not just from all levels of society but also those of different ethnic backgrounds. 

Students must be exposed to people of different beliefs, morals and customs, and learn to be non-judgmental.

Instead, most undergraduates are not only cocooned within the campus but also limited to a small circle of friends. 

When a large number of Malaysian students congregate in the same university overseas, they mix mostly among themselves instead of being exposed to others.

From primary school right up to university, students ought to be coached on how to sit, stand and walk properly, listen attentively and speak clearly. 

Teachers and lecturers must learn interpersonal communication skills so that they can practise and teach them to their students. 

They would then realise the importance of visual and vocal communication, which are given higher weightage than verbal communication.

While language using words are needed to speak, read and write, it is the least important component when communicating face-to-face. 

Percentage-wise, the verbal component in interpersonal communication constitutes only 7pc, vocal 38pc and visual 55pc. 

This is because the same word can have opposite meanings depending on the tone of voice, which can reveal the feeling of the speaker. 

Hence, the importance of communicating face-to-face on important matters as it is difficult to cover up visual clues all the time. 

Those who have mastered the art of reading body language would know that everyone is communicating, often unknowingly, even when not speaking.

Students taking up a sport as an 

extracurricular activity receive coaching

so that they can learn faster and perform better. 

But are undergraduates being coached to practise and develop social skills so that they can be more successful in their future jobs or businesses? 

One example of a social skill is listening, which is more than just hearing.

While the latter is the physiological ability at a subconscious level that do not require concentration, the former is a psychological skill at a conscious level that requires focus, and timely and appropriate responses.

Active listening is a developed skill that involves the effort to understand what is being said, while noting the tone and observing visual clues, and providing appropriate responses to show attentiveness. 

This would assure the speaker the message has been conveyed and understood.

While it is vital for all students to learn communication and social skills, their future success hinges on social values. 

Vital skills must be taught from the first year and developed alongside with their studies, so that our graduates are more exposed, educated and employable.

- YS Chan is Asean Tourism Master Trainer for travel agencies, master trainer for Mesra Malaysia and Travel & Tours Enhancement Course. He is also a tourism and transport industry consultant and writer.

 

- The views expressed here are the views of the writer YS Chan and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

- If you have something to share, write to us at: [email protected]





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