You couldn’t fail to have noticed the amount of news coverage today’s school curriculum is receiving, most of it bad, focusing on the amount of stress it’s putting on young children.

It seems the government is hell-bent on pushing kids to the max in an attempt to raise standards and provide a more educated workforce. But is this what the workforce needs?

The current push in schools is to give our children good literacy and numeracy skills. I have a ten-year-old in year six, and some of the homework he gets is incredibly complex.

Anyone else know that a subjunctive clause resembles the present indicative in form?

Not a clue.

Anyway, I digress.

The fact is, when they reach the business world, they’re going to need more.

In fact, let me give you a quote from the Carnegie Institute, originally credited to Charles Riborg Mann in 1918:

“85% of your financial success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical knowledge.”

Now, I’m not going to argue that this is necessarily true these days, but certainly, many business leaders would say that too many students are leaving school with lots of technical skills and absolutely no life, or ‘soft’ skills.

Such things as how to lead, how to interact with people and importantly, resilience in the face of adversity are lacking in many who enter the business world, and if there’s one thing the world needs, it’s resilience.

Take three minutes to watch this:

I’ve just heard that when given their mock SATS results, some children are hunched over their desks crying. These are ten year olds who are giving up. What are we teaching?

It can’t be taught in the classroom

Resilience isn’t learned from getting 9 out of 10 in a spelling test.

These skills are best learned in an environment away from the classroom, and in a safe environment where children can face their fears, do things they don’t think are possible (for them, anyway) and then exceed their own expectations.

Classroom skills are important, but without taking time out to learn soft skills, they will be at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to daily life, and importantly, the workplace.

What are these soft skills?

But what are we talking about here? What are these skills that can improve our children’s lives so much?

The very term “soft skills” puts people off, they think it means that their children will be “soft”, not “hard”, for some that’s too much to take, but the opposite is actually true.

Let’s go through them and explain why each is important and how Challenge Academy can help.

Communication

We live in a hyper-connected world, yet communication is often not effective.

Why?

Well, it’s not how things are communicated that’s the problem. Heck, there’s no shortage of ways to get a message from one person to another.

With Facebook, Twitter, Messaging and any other number of apps, asking mum or dad what’s for dinner is easy.

No, what’s important in communication is what is said and how it’s said.

It’s not about past participles, nouns and verbs. It’s about how to use style and tone to best match your audience. It’s how to explain complex subjects in ways that can be understood by the masses. It’s a huge part of leadership. You’ll never meet an effective leader who can’t communicate, they all can, they lead because they can communicate well.

How Challenge Academy can help

Our courses are designed to challenge people. You don’t just walk around hoping not to fall off, you have to work your way through a set of challenges, and an effective communicator can explain to others how to succeed. The teams that do best are the ones that communicate to each other effectively.

Self-Motivation

Nobody got anything done by sitting on their backside waiting for something to happen.

Success is often a measure of how hard you work, and what your attitude is towards getting up and hitting life head-on.

How Challenge Academy can help

If you elect to sit by the side and watch, you won’t succeed. Our tasks need you to rise to the challenge and walk the walk. Being a leader is one thing, but simply telling people what to do doesn’t mean you’ll be successful if you’re not willing to also take those steps yourself.

Leadership

When I worked for a large consultancy firm, I was told by one particular visionary within the organisation that the company had far too many managers. What it needed were leaders.

Leaders aren’t elected, they just appear. They lead simply by leading. There’s no qualification.

They inspire people to be their best simply by being themselves and being inspirational and this is learnt through the simple act of doing things that inspire.

That’s a complex sentence to comprehend, the easiest way is to give an example.

Many people think something is impossible. They think they can’t do something.

“I can’t climb that.”

“I can’t walk across there.”

“I can’t….<insert whatever your fear is here>.”

How Challenge Academy can help

We help people achieve. We show them how they can and we show them how they can inspire others.

If they can do it, then anyone with the right mindset can do it. It’s that simple.

Responsibility

Being responsible for your actions is a big step. Understanding that when you make a mistake you need to take responsibility for it is hard, but it means you can move on, regardless of the pain it causes.

It also shows you that you are in control.

How Challenge Academy can help

We give kids the tools they need to understand the tasks at hand and give them the responsibility to do it correctly, or to do it wrong, but either way we also show them how to hold their heads up high and ‘take it on the chin’ if it doesn’t go to plan.

Teamwork

Finally, let’s talk about teamwork.

It’s very unlikely that we’ll work in isolation during our working day.

We are heading towards a world of more entrepreneurs than ever before, a freelancing style of work where the skills needed to perform a task are likely diverse.

Being able to work with a team is essential.

Knowing when to speak up and when to accept the status quo can be the difference between an effective and ineffective team.

How Challenge Academy can help

Our teamwork challenges put a huge emphasis on ensuring people work together to get a task done, in fact, they very often cannot be completed in isolation.

The education revolution

An academic education is essential. We live in a world that is becoming more complex by the day, and technical skills are replacing non-technical all the time.

In fact, it’s estimated that 50% of the jobs around today will be gone in ten years’ time.

They’ll be replaced by others, so more technical skills will be needed.

What won’t change is the need for people to get on with other people using the skills listed above.

In fact, in an ever more digital world where people communicate with mobile devices more and more, you could argue that the need for such skills is going to grow even more.