Today, education as the trainer of tomorrow’s workers reflects employer demands of delivering workforce candidates that are trained in “Whole-Child” style, i.e., having both foundational STEM content mastery and Soft Skills including creativity and emotional intelligence. Here’s three reasons why:
1. Employers Need Workers with STEM Foundational Content Mastery
All jobs have at least some degree of intellectual requirement, so having base knowledge to think from is a key to being a useful employee. The trend to all people being wired and having access to devices means that individuals without basic computer literacy are at a disadvantage. Take email or smart phones for example. If you can’t email, you’re not a basic competency level for most jobs.
2. Employers Need Workers with Soft Skills of Creativity & Emotional Intelligence
As computing has advanced through robotics (replacing human muscles with machines) to machine learning and AI (replacing human thinking), it’s become clear to many that the furthest reaches from computer automation lies at the creativity and emotional end of the spectrum. So, while automation has greatly affected lower-level functions, creativity and emotional intelligence remain in high demand. In fact, such demand has risen in that there’s so much leverage and so many cost-effective solutions to create new things. Take video and film production for example: what used to require huge studios and many workers can now be produced out of a smart phone. Creativity tools make self expression produceable on tap.
3. Search Engines Are Pushing the Curve for Soft Skills in Workers
Search engines have democratized knowledge and information. It’s readily on tap for anyone, free at a moment’s notice. We no longer have to memorize information or processes by rote. The net result is that there’s less of a need to load a lot of possibly useful knowledge into students’ heads. With a smaller basis of knowledge, they can now go more directly to invention and innovation phases and if smart critical-thinkers, they will ask the right questions and do the just-in-time research necessary to get their job done. From an education standpoint, this means that making student memorize by rote risks disengagement as students won’t see the relevancy of learning questionable things. But the opposite case of students understanding positive stakes for themselves empowers engagement and interest like never before.
STEM x Soft Skills = Whole-Child Success
Note that the featured image for this post abbreviates Soft Skills as a superscript exponent “SS”. Exponents are multiplicative factors to the base variable that they are tied to. In this case, STEM as foundational content mastery is multiplied exponentially by Soft Skills creativity and emotional intelligence. This is why “Whole-Child” training encompasses both STEM and Soft Skills.