In today’s modern world, technology reigns supreme. While this can be great for making our lives easier and more efficient, dealing with bots and algorithms can sometimes feel cold or impersonal. Technology is unbeatable when it comes to automating processes and analysing data, but employers still need soft skills in their employees to retain a ‘human’ feel within their organisations.

In LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, it discovered that 91% of companies cite a lack of soft skills in candidates as an issue. Meanwhile, a survey of 1,250 HR and line of business executives revealed that 66% of companies had rejected an otherwise qualified candidate for an IT role, because of deficient soft skills.

Employers value soft skills so highly because they’re all about people, and how we create personal relationships and professional connections. Research from Cengage showed soft skills are most in demand (65% of employers), compared to computer and technical skills (50%), and quantitative skills (47%). So, while you may have exceptional technical skills, if you lack the capability to be a ‘team player’ you may find it hard to progress in your career.

We believe the top five soft skills that students develop through an online MSc are communication, organisation, agility, being a self-starter, and problem-solving. Here we explore each in more detail.

1. Communication

While studying for an online MSc, you’ll increase your proficiency in written communication through your assignments. Good communicators are also the best listeners – and listening is one of the top skills that today’s employers are looking for.

Through using our Virtual Learning Environment, you can take the time to hear the information, opinions and ideas shared by those around you, rather than jumping straight into every conversation. Developing your emotional intelligence skills by understanding the motivations and views of your peers, you’ll learn how to craft arguments that are designed to persuade people to change their minds.

2. Organisation

During an online MSc, you will be expected to commit 12-15 hours of study per week at home. Add that to your 40-hour working week, and all the family and personal commitments in your life, and it starts to become a big juggling act.

Time management is essential to get the balance right. At the beginning of every eight-week unit you will be given a list of assignments and graded tasks that need to be performed. Make the time to create a study schedule, and then set expectations at work and at home about when these busy periods are coming up.

3. Agility

The majority of our online students continue working alongside their studies, which affords them the opportunity to try out new skills and immediately take lessons learned back to their professional lives.

The other side of agility is about the day-to-day balance of studying alongside your work and personal commitments. You can be the most organised person in the world, with your assignment deadlines all mapped out and a tight study schedule, but if your child suddenly falls sick, or things go crazy at work, you need to be able to adapt.

Having that determination to keep going when things don’t go according to plan is really important. Also, thinking creatively about how you can overcome those issues, or connecting the disparate dots to come up with a new solution is a highly sought-after skill in the workplace.

4. Being a self-starter

Choosing to study an online MSc is a big undertaking. Whether you’re looking for a promotion or to switch careers, every student has their own intrinsic motivations for making the commitment. Never lose sight of these.

According to the UK Engagement Survey, the soft skill delivered through university learning that consistently ranks first is independent learning. For an online course, where you’re not attending weekly lectures and seminars in person, this dedication to studying at home needs to be even stronger. Maintaining that work ethic will see you through the busier periods when assignments are due. We advise students to create a dedicated study space at home so you’re set up with the right learning environment.

5. Problem solving

More than one graduate employer survey has named problem solving as one of the most difficult skills to recruit for. Problem solving isn’t just about fixing things when they go wrong. It’s about having the foresight to recognise when/where an issue may arise, identifying the possible solutions and deciding to implement the most suitable one. It’s also about knowing when to ask for help, and when to bring in the expertise of others.

Studying for an online MSc, you’re exposed to a wealth of information. Choosing a course from the University of Bath, where our emphasis is on the real-world application of the lessons learned throughout your studies, you’ll learn how to approach problems in a logical, pragmatic and realistic way, for a better outcome.

Go further with the University of Bath

Studying an online MSc is a prime opportunity to improve your soft skills and your future career prospects. Discover more about the online courses currently available at the University of Bath.

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