A lthough leadership, communication and collaboration have long been talked about as essential “soft” skills, young people entering the labour market today, the so-called “millennials”, lack the ability to concentrate, learn from experience, and lack the perseverance and modesty. Research show that 80 percent jobseekers lack such soft skills as the ability to communicate fluently in writing and orally, the ability to collaborate and do not understand the importance of punctuality. Most employers believe that the biggest challenge in the global labour market is not the lack of professional skills, but the lack of soft skills.
The unique KTU Master’s model MA+, launched in 2017, offers the opportunity for students to shape their studies according to their needs: in addition to their main study program, Master’s students can choose an additional competence from 21 competence packages. Each MA + competence package consists of three study modules, each of which is equal to 6 ECTS credits. Consequently, regardless of the field of study, each student can take 18 ECTS credit value modules, in which the main focus is on the development of soft skills. The award of a KTU certificate and an entry in the master’s diploma supplement evidences acquisition of competence. In addition, the student can obtain an international certificate (details are provided next to each competency). Competencies are implemented by KTU lecturers – experts in their field – and high-level business and public sector organizations, whose employees give lectures, provide topics for students’ final theses, practice-oriented assignments for projects, etc. Currently, the most popular among students are MA+ competencies in leadership, project management, change management, languages (German, Spanish, French, etc.).
“The unique KTU Master's model MA+, launched in 2017, offers the opportunity for students to shape their studies according to their needs: in addition to their main study program, Master's students can choose an additional competence from 21 competence packages.”
All 21 MA+ competencies offered by KTU were developed in collaboration with businesses. According to employers, the KTU master’s model MA+ has proved its worth, as it perfectly fills the lack of soft skills, which is especially obvious among graduates of engineering and technological studies. The labour market is oriented towards a complex, dynamic, uncertain environment, in which high expectations prevail for employees – they are given a lot of freedom, but at the same time, they have to take on many different responsibilities in their work. Managers no longer give precise instructions; employees have to make their own decisions. In addition, the circle of people with whom the specialist from any area of expertise has to interact, has expanded greatly today – both geographically, culturally and by specialty. When working in multinational teams, it is necessary to take into account both multicultural and thinking differences and it is necessary to transcend the boundaries of one position – for example, programmers work closely with customer service specialists, IT specialists with accountants and the like. Working in such an environment is much easier with a broad education.
According to data provided by the international consulting company Korn Ferry (surveyed by almost 2,000 companies worldwide), the five soft skills that a successful job candidate should have are: 1) intellectual curiosity, 2) “360-degree” thinking, i.e., the ability to evaluate problems within a multidisciplinary framework (a trait that is particularly important to managers), 3) cultural competence, i.e., the ability to distance oneself from position, organization, and country culture, and to think globally, 4) empathy, and 5) the ability to adapt. Global tendencies are also characteristic of Lithuania. According to Lithuanian employers, the most attractive are universal employees who know more than one field. Every employer seeks to find an employee who not only knows a certain area (such as IT, marketing or finance), but also has excellent communication skills, speaks several languages, and express thoughts fluently both in writing and orally. Today, young jobseekers especially lack the ability to present their thoughts fluently, without mistakes, in writing and orally. However, after all, e-mails and documentation have to be prepared in every organization. An employee may be a great expert in his or her field, but if he or she is unable to develop arguments to support his or her project, his or her value to the organization may be questionable.
When studying a chosen MA+ competence, project work is prepared, there is a lot of teamwork, communication skills between students of various specialties are strengthened, a lot of attention is paid not to the acquisition of knowledge, but to the interpretation, structuring and analysis of the material. Students are given the opportunity to strengthen their soft skills, while guaranteeing wider and higher value-added
Author: Kauno Technologijos Universitetas