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Poco Windy #13 CTE Soft Skills: Wind Energy Applications

There has been much discussion over the past few years regarding the need for ‘soft skills’ in career-technical education (CTE). What are soft skills? CTE Best Practices (November 28, 2017) simply states that “soft skills are those personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”

Just how important are these? Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Stanford Research Center concluded that 85 percent of job success comes from having well-developed people skills, also called ‘soft skills,’ and only 15 percent of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge, i. e. ‘hard skills.’

What do good people skills have to do with, say, wind energy technical occupations? You may have thought that wind technicians climb towers by themselves and work alone. Not so. Like so many other careers, wind energy technical occupations, such as technicians, engineers, and facility managers, are a people business, one where you typically work in groups or on teams. Up tower and on the ground, in wind farm facilities, in operational control centers—it’s all about working with people.

Lists of soft skills vary. We will report on the soft skills that make most lists, starting with the ability to problem solve and attention to detail. The trick, of course, will be how to conduct effective soft skill training and/or how to screen for it in the hiring process. We will later offer some suggestions.

Remember the math! 85-15. Stay tuned for a monthly ‘soft skill’ update from Region 9 CTE.

By Dr. James Miller