Soft Skill Development Leads to Success

Careers 

Tertiary education provides students with many things – career specific knowledge, technical skills, problem solving capabilities and personal growth among them, but one area not often addressed is the soft skills that make us better professionals in our chosen field. That’s why Study Gold Coast developed Kickstart –  a program specifically designed to provide graduates with practical workplace skills to build their effectiveness within their organisation.

Throughout the Kickstart Program participants receive varied training through experiential learning; practical and interactive workshops; as well as coaching from executive and career co-facilitators with mentoring through the completion of a significant project.

This year was the second time Kickstart had been run, with 20 participants representing 15 employers taking part in the program. Participants delivered their final presentations to an enthusiastic audience this week, with their employers proudly looking on. Employees and their employers were universally effusive in their praise for the program, with all parties recognising the mutual benefits from the experience.  

Effective communication

One of the most creative presentations was delivered by Victoria Suzuki, a developer and designer for Coding Labs, the Burleigh Heads based digital developers who specialise in building custom apps for the web and mobile platforms.

Victoria Suzuki enjoys some rest and relaxation at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

To highlight the difficulty in communicating the technical aspects of digital design with customers, Victoria asked for two volunteers from the audience. One was given a simple picture and asked to describe it to the other only using shapes. The idea was to see if the design could be effectively communicated within 60 seconds and how accurate that picture could be replicated by the person receiving the verbal instructions. The exercise not only fully engaged the audience, it also successfully demonstrated the challenging logistics of Victoria’s role within her organisation.      

Victoria says she learnt a lot about communication from participating in Kickstart. “I learnt so much from the group discussions we had during the program. Seeing other people’s perspectives and how they react to their own situations gave me a broader understanding of not only communication, but how people see similar problems in a different light. The interactions with other participants from different industries was a real eye opener for me”, she says.

There were also many practical skills that Victoria picked up during the course. “Kickstart improved my time management, developed my capabilities to better analyse tasks, and gave me more confidence to ask questions when I didn’t understand something. All of those skills translated into creating better projects through a growth mindset.”

Valuable assets

Coding Labs’ Director and UX Designer Jerrell Niu noticed a big difference in Victoria’s skillset from taking part in the program. “Victoria was already a very capable employee to start with, but Kickstart has made her more confident and has given her assets that she wouldn’t have received from us otherwise. We provide training on technical skills, but not the soft skills, that’s why I think this program is valuable for all graduates”, Jerrell explains.  

Study Gold Coast CEO Alfred Slogrove, Victoria Suzuki and Jerrell Niu

“Due to the nature of our business, people often assume we are only concerned about technical skills, but one of the things we look for when we’re assessing potential employees is whether they have those soft skills to start with. They need to have the drive to be able to educate themselves and to be able to communicate", he says.

"The people who are successful are those that continue to improve their soft skills. The technical skills you take for granted, we can work with that, it’s the soft skills that we often need help with. Unfortunately in the cut and thrust of daily work we don’t really have time to develop those skills. It’s easy to see what’s needed, but to actually help them develop it, that’s quite another thing. That’s why Kickstart is so good. We’re already planning on taking part again next year.”  

*Learn more about Kickstart here.