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Soft Skills Matter, Too

I recently attended an insightful workforce development summit in GSO put on by regional leaders who are all trying to figure out how to solve the talent gap here. And it’s not just here, it’s a national shortage of the right skills and the lowest unemployment rate in a generation or more. That’s why Amazon opted for two locations – to tap into multiple talent pools.

So when it comes to economic development, the game has turned on its head. Used to be that infrastructure and incentive packages carried the most weight – and they’re still important factors – but the number one things companies are looking for is talent. The area with the right talent and with available talent wins. Game over.

Three manufacturers shared their perspective with the audience in GSO. “The people who show up at our front door are largely unemployable for a variety of reasons,” one stated. “We’ve all had to change our hiring policies to reflect what’s out there. Five years ago, we hired our first felon,” said another. And finally, “We’ll teach new employees the skills. What we need are people with the right work attitude and ethic.”

These executives referenced writing and communication skills, team work, and, in one case, simply showing up as the soft skills most needed for today’s jobs. “We have an in-house university. We make the people we need, but to do that, they have to come in ready to learn,” said one company owner.

To grow more companies here from startup to supersize is going to require more employers thinking like this group. It’s also going to require prospective employees showing up with the right soft skills and consistently showing up. 

What are you doing to think innovatively about talent?