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PHCC to implement soft skills training

According to a recent article in the Martinsville Bulletin, employers expect job candidates to have soft skills, but are not finding them in many applicants.

Besides the career resources such as resume building and interview workshops that are already available to students at Patrick Henry Community College, Career Services Coordinator Cory Werkheiser is creating new ways to meet the needs of students, alumni, and employers.

Werkheiser is part of a national Soft Skills Steering Committee led by Wonderlic, an educational assessment company providing businesses with tests and surveys for each phase of the hiring process. The committee determined the following soft skills that were 1) of major importance to employers when hiring for entry-level positions and 2) reflective of teachable/trainable skills.

·         Communication: Conveying information clearly, accurately, and completely.

·         Teamwork: Easy to work with; ability and willingness to collaborate.

·         Professionalism: Showing up on time and staying until the job is done. Being presentable in appearance or mannerism.

·         Initiative: Not waiting for someone to give a directive or for someone else to address a problem first.

·         Customer Service: Being personable while listening to customers and working to address their needs with patience and empathy.

·         Self-Management: Not requiring constant attention, reminders, or corrections.

·         Interpersonal Skills: Smiling, listening, and being polite.

·         Critical Thinking: Ability to assess situations and arrive at possible solutions. 

·         Nonverbal and Listening Skills: Understanding body language and social cues. Absorbing and responding to information.

The committee, comprised of 30 educators, employers, and organization leaders from across the country, was tasked with identifying these skills and creating training for job seekers to be used nationally. The online Soft Skills Training Bootcamp will prepare and test future employees on soft skills mastery. The bootcamp is slated to be introduced this fall at PHCC.

Meanwhile, Werkheiser has completed some of his own local research to determine what employers in PHCC’s service region are saying about soft skills.  He has found that the needs in this area closely resemble the needs nationally.

“This is one of my biggest challenges,” says Beverly Riddle, Human Resource Manager with Virginia Glass and Mirror in Martinsville. “Soft Skills allow individuals to use technical skills and knowledge effectively.”

Sean Nix, Director of Talent Development with Monogram Foods, adds “In a highly competitive marketplace, having the right people with the right skills makes all the difference. Without both technical skills and soft skills, success can remain out of reach or unsustainable.”

In response to this local and national need, Werkheiser reminds students and recent alumni who are looking for jobs that he offers career readiness workshops on Tuesday from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. in Frith 134.

 “At PHCC we are doing all that we can to help our students succeed,” says Werkheiser, “all they have to do is take advantage of the resources available to them.”

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