Importance of teaching social skills to children

Saturday March 12 2016

Even in the most technical and scientific industries, it’s the people who combine technological and interpersonal skills who are most in demand. Like computer scientists who’re good at working on group projects. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH

Even in the most technical and scientific industries, it’s the people who combine technological and interpersonal skills who are most in demand. Like computer scientists who’re good at working on group projects. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH 

By CHRIS HART
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There’s a big shake up going on at work. All around the world, routine jobs - like manufacturing and call centres - are declining. Or being concentrated in a few countries that have specialised in them. Low-skill and service-sector jobs are always available, of course. Everywhere. But there’s a huge number of people to fill them, so they’re badly paid.

All the growth - and the best salaries - are in the professions that require a high level of technical ability. And social skills. Like empathy, communication, persuasion, flexibility and cooperating with others. Think of doctors, lawyers, financial managers, computer scientists and management consultants.

What does all that mean?

It means that even in the most technical and scientific industries, it’s the people who combine technological and interpersonal skills who are most in demand. Like computer scientists who’re good at working on group projects.

Or imagine two people working on a report. If one’s good at data analysis and the other’s good at writing, together they’ll create a better document. But if they lack interpersonal skills, the downsides of working together might outweigh the benefits of cooperating.

IMPORTANT LESSONS

Another example’s from Google, who researched which of their employees made the most effective managers. They thought it would be the most technically competent individuals. But it wasn’t. It was the ones who made time for one-on-one meetings, helped employees work through problems and took an interest in their lives.

So if your children are going to get the best jobs in today’s world, it’s vital that they work hard at the tough subjects, such as maths, science and languages. But nowadays, they’ll also need brilliant social skills - which are rarely emphasised in school.

That’s not to devalue a traditional education. In fact, being good at the classic school subjects is probably more necessary than ever. But schools also need to add social skills into the curriculum. For example, the best schools today operate ‘flipped classrooms.’

Homework’s used to study the new facts before class, and then the topic’s developed in classroom discussions and group work.

Picking up the facts at home means less lecturing during class time. Which instead can be used to teach effective communication and interaction. Emphasising creativity, cooperation and judgment.

Group activities like sports, music and drama are also good ways to teach children social skills, including dependability and perseverance.

At the moment it’s women who’re making the best of this shift in the workplace. They’re naturally attracted towards jobs that require social skills - like managers, doctors and consultants - because everything in a girl’s upbringing helps her to develop better emotional intelligence.

While boys aren’t. Instead they’re encouraged to be tough and keep their emotions to themselves.

So constantly, build your social skills. All the way through your career. And your children’s. By actively choosing schools for them that will build their social intelligence. And working on their social skills at home. Especially with your boys, who are currently missing out…