Do Engineers need training in Soft Skills?

Engineering is among the evergreen careers. With the fast pace of development in different new sectors the engineering career witness emerging of new disciplines in the profession. Technical knowledge is the prime need in this profession. Soft skills however are the most needed elements for a career in engineering as well as for all other STEM professionals.

The issue is that academic training has a focus on improving numeric sense and the technical skills of engineers. Soft Kills are perhaps the most ignored element. By soft skills, we mean the skills like creativity, communication, cooperation, organization, teamwork, and leadership, etc. Lack of training in soft skills is a serious issue for prospective engineers. Training in soft skills is always a priority for new entrants in all industrial sectors. Engineers need to learn soft skills because they are not trained in these skills in their academic careers.

Following are some of the most important soft skills for engineers. 

Adaptability

We are living in an era of fast changes. Technology change and up-gradation effects the production and engineering services every day. Engineers need to remain ready for challenges, setbacks, and unexpected changes. They need to keep their knowledge updated to face the issues and to adjust themselves to the changing scenario. 

Refresher courses and training in soft skills keep them ready to adapt to the unforeseen. The soft skills improve their expertise making them able to think out of the box. They become able to find solutions. Learning to lead their teams in crisis and completing tasks in difficulties with minimum resources. 

Creativity

Creativity is a way to innovate and initiate the process of valuable change. Engineers are supposed to think, plan and create products and services for easing out the life of potential users. Creativity is thus the center stone of the process of innovation. Engineers need to think out of the box to stimulate innovation. Generating new ideas and experimenting to turn ideas into reality is the way forward for a valuable change. 

The engineers are normally expected to maintain a status queue. Keeping the same machines running through the same set of human resources leads to attaining production targets. This is a time-tested way to meet production goals. The creative engineers keep on thinking and innovating methods to get the work done more efficiently by deploying the same resources. This is only possible if the engineers have training in creativity and innovation. 

The training in innovation empowers them to better understand the issues, challenges, and needs of users. They can improve the utility of products by making changes in design, development process, and production time. Empowering engineers to learn soft skills can help in their creativity and innovation. It leads to a refinement of their qualities and approach to problem-solving. 

Communication

Knowing is something but telling it to others is entirely a different phenomenon. Communication is a skill that helps in effectively conveying your ideas to others. Your knowledge is useless if you fail to tell others about your strengths and expertise. People in the technical profession usually fail to understand the importance of effective workplace communication. 

Engineers need to learn the skill to better display their technical knowledge. It is possible through improving their listening, speaking, and writing skills. Mastering these skills can result in honing up their analytical skill. An engineer with good communication skills can explain technical concepts in simple language to his non-technical team. It will make things easy for him and his team to improve their output. 

Collaboration

Teamwork is considered a key to the success of a leader. Collaboration is the most critical skill that engineers need to master. It helps in making a good team and then leading it to win. Make sure that members of the team are on the same page and messages are passing through clearly. It leads to create efficiency among rank and file. The nature of the job of an engineer compels him to work with people of varying skills, education levels, and moods. 

Keeping cordial relations with all team members, understanding their needs, and empowering them to own the collective responsibility of the project is the test of the leadership strength of an engineer. These skills can be developed early on in one’s career. Training engineers in soft skills means creating a leadership cadre in the engineering sector capable of producing future professionals. 

Leadership

Leadership is not a single skill but a combination of traits, qualities, and skills that help to deal with people to teach and train them to complete defined tasks. It enables them to face unexpected in times of crisis. It is what one learns over time through study, experience, and continuous learning. Successful leaders never avoid taking responsibility. They take the challenges head-on. 

It is the most essential soft skill that empowers an engineer to develop a winning team capable of facing challenges in difficulties. Engineers are prone to prove better leaders because of their analytical educational backgrounds. They learn fast to adjust to changing environments. Training in soft skills helps sharpen their qualities and personal traits. 

The need for soft skills for engineers can not be ignored in the wake of the knowledge economy leading industrial progress. Businesses need to understand the need by considering soft skill learning in their training methodology.

  • Umar Hayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textile, and teaching in business administration.