The multicultual skills is the one of the intellectual skills identified and listed in the “Guideline for integrating Soft skills in HEIs curricula” within the oral and writing communication skills group. This is the first result of the Enhancing the presence of Soft Skills in Higher Education Curricula (Skills4Employability) Erasmus+ project, which seeks to support universities in their efforts to improve the quality of education by adapting curricula to the soft-skills demands of the labour market and, as a result, ensure a greater impact on the employment situation of future graduates.
Multicultural competency is defined as the knowledge, skills and personal attributes needed to live and work in a diverse world. The term ‘culture’ is often seen as a synonym of national culture. However, within nations, are countries (such as England, Wales and Scotland in the UK), regions, cities, towns and neighbourhoods that have their own culture which may differ from what is known (or perceived) as the national culture. Specific cultures may also be associated with political, religious, socio-economic, sports and special interest groups, whose members may be spread across more than one nation. Business organisations and within them, individual departments, also have their own unique cultures.
Why is this Soft Skill important?
Accoding to Anna Calvi and Miriam Hauck, Lectures in Moderm Languages at The Open University says, factors such as globalisation, technological developments, migration and the emergence of global languages (such as English) deeply influence modern societies, groups and organisations, making them increasingly multicultural. In these social environments, people from different cultural backgrounds need to learn to live and work together.
Living and working in a multicultural environment is a potentially enriching experience, which promotes awareness and understanding of different viewpoints and expertise. This can stimulate problem solving capabilities and creativity, as well as an ability to better connect with colleagues and customers from different national and cultural contexts.
While the ability to connect successfully with people from different cultural contexts is often taken for granted, it is important to be aware of the challenges that this can create and devise possible solutions.
How can this Soft Skill be assessed?
Below are some of the communication strategies that could be attempted when managing a multicultural team. Depending on the context and purpose of communication, each of these strategies has advantages and drawbacks and must be carefully evaluated before being put into practice or combined with other approaches.
- Deal with the task immediately and discuss any differences as they arise
- Learn about team members by using social activities
- Focus on similarities and group identity while downplaying team-members’ differences
- Accept team members that choose to work independently on certain tasks
- Allow a powerful and more experienced subgroup to dominate the team
- Assign team roles according to the national cultural features of each team member
Prepared by CONEXX-EU