Are Verbal Communication and Interpersonal Skills disappearing?

The skills shortage has been in the news lately with some very interesting data from the CACEE – Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers  reported in an excellent series on Work in Progress by Jessica Barrett.

“.. the No. 1 complaint from employers is not that job candidates who do beat the system lack professional or technical qualifications, rather, they lack strong verbal communication and interpersonal skills – the very intangibles applicant tracking systems simply cannot assess. “

The CACEE points out that the increasing reliance on online recruiting and applicant tracking systems since 2008 has changed the recruitment process and the skills shortage may be more of a recruitment issue. 

Regardless of its weaknesses, online recruiting is here to stay and the cost of a poor hire is high.  According to Nancy Moulday, recruitment manager for TD Business Bank and president of the CACEE board,

“the cost of replacing a bad hire can equal the annual salary for that position – far outstripping the initial investment in finding the right fit.”

What is needed as recruitment and indeed education are increasingly online, is greater attention paid to the actual training and testing of verbal communication and interpersonal skills. These skills are often overlooked as it is assumed that either the skills are not teachable (wrong!) or that people will learn them on the job.  But in an increasingly diverse and global workplace, this is a big assumption.

The tools for training and measuring these skills are becoming more sophisticated and effective. This must become part of the mix for educational institutions who want to produce excellent graduates with universal skills, and for employers who are looking for the right fit.

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