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  • Writer's pictureGiota

Why do post-graduates and PhDs candidates in STEM lack soft skills?- the non-academic career after-2

Why do employers in the industry and business find few STEM PhD holders with sought after soft skills? Aren’t STEM PhD holders good listeners or critical thinkers?

According to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2030, the most sought after workforce skills will be technological, social and emotional, and higher cognitive skills. Creativity, complex information processing, empathy, critical thinking and communication will be the top desired features of the future employee as AI and machine learning lack such skills but possess higher interdisciplinary technical capabilities. The top wanted skills would be entrepreneurship and taking initiatives.

As a PhD holder in STEM, you most definitely have the hard skills to lead a research team or manage and run a dynamic lab, but other “softer” skills are needed, such as to communicate and work with other departments in the same or different company or institute, even with people from other countries. Even more overwhelming might be to communicate, lead and manage a team of graduates and non-graduates of different technical backgrounds.

How about writing a research proposal with your business for knowledge transfer purposes?

The fierce competition over dramatically decreasing funding opportunities coupled with the increasing numbers of PhD candidates make attractive and convincing research writing skills for wider expert and non-expert audiences important to STEM PhD holders. Writing skills and communicating science and engineering to a broader audience does not involve volunteering, as most certainly networking is no longer limited to conferences only.

Social media influencers of lifestyle and entrepreneurs have shown the STEM PhDs how to expand their audience, communicate their work and create their brand name.

Assertiveness in your role can save you by learning to say no when you might be overloaded with new projects and tasks. Being assertive helps you indirectly prioritise and follow your long-term career goals and balance your professional and personal life well because not all managers are good ones.

Part 1 of the series "Why do post-graduates and PhDs candidates in STEM lack soft skills?" is found on LinkedIn.

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