There’s a story behind this one, so bear with me…
A couple of years ago a business partner and I we’re running a workshop in Doha for IATA’s world cargo symposium which was attended by an audience of “future air cargo executives” the next generation of leaders.
Some of the worlds most important people in air cargo were sitting in the room that day as these are the people who are going to be running the sector in the years to come.
In order to deliver the workshop so it would be best received by this particular generation (See Education… Aligned.) we decided to run a forum using snap polls (a simple show of hands), encouraging some lively discussion along the way.
After debating a range of topics we eventually came to the subject of continuing education and personal development.
We asked for people to raise their hands if they had worked towards a formal degree qualification over the past 12 months.
About half the room shot their hands up.
We then asked who had taken part in any soft skills training in the last 12 months… just two or three hands popped up.
Ok… so its evident (for whatever reason) that soft skills weren’t at the top of the training agenda.
We were now warming up to the killer question.
“If we gave you a blank cheque that you can use to pay for either a degree course or soft skills training… which would you choose?”.
Silence… for a few minutes, then discussion backwards and forwards, the room is divided… and with a final show of hands its a 50/50 split (I guess if you were personally very aware of a soft skill area where you would like to improve then you would be one of the soft skills choosers).
Their was clearly a demand for soft skills training in the room which hadn’t been identified by their employers (remember only 2-3 people had raised their hands earlier).
So is it more important to pay for the degree or better to fine tune your soft skills?
Well if you want to be leading people and growing a business and if you are going to be one of the future senior executives in an industry then you are definitely going to benefit from having highly mastered soft skills.
Ah but hang on though, will you ever get those opportunities without the degree? Could you handle a senior executive post without the hard skills gained whilst getting a degree?
Would qualification by experience also be enough instead of a degree?
There is no real right or wrong answer here as too many different factors are involved, but I would add that in a challenging jobs market you need to have as many strings to your bow as possible to give you the edge on your competition.
If you have the means and ability to get a degree then you should do it…. but also keep on honing those soft skills!
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