When asked which skills the children of today will need to develop to keep their jobs safe from automation, employers often highlight so-called “soft skills”, a suite of attributes that include social abilities like networking, communication, negotiation, team-building and problem-solving. At the root of these skills is how well a child gets on with others.
Now, an analysis of the latest PISA report (Programme for International Student Assessment), which assesses how 15-year-olds in OECD countries are performing in science, mathematics and reading, has revealed the countries in which children are best at “collaborative problem-solving”.
Asian countries Singapore, Japan and South Korea top the chart, with Canada, Estonia and Finland not far behind. Denmark, the United States and United Kingdom also make the top 10.
The Hamilton Project, an economic research group that is part of the US think-tank the Brookings Institution, produced a report this year that found US hiring managers were worried about a lack of both “cognitive” skills, such as good understanding of maths and language, and “non-cognitive skills” – ie the so-called “soft skills”.
The report explained: “While fewer than 20% of hiring managers said that recent graduates lacked the math skills needed for the work, more than half said that recent graduates lacked attention to detail. About equal shares of hiring managers saw deficiencies in writing proficiency and communication – the cognitive and non-cognitive aspects, respectively, of a single skill. About a third of hiring managers said recent college graduates lacked data analysis and teamwork skills.”