What is behind soft skills? Perceptions and stances of university lecturers and students in Russia
With studies on soft skills on the rise worldwide, they obviously play a very important role as a basis for employability requirements on the labour market. In Russia, soft skills are beginning to find ways into university curricula. The broad mismatch of the term connotations among educators, students and employers forces researchers to dwell upon the content and scope of soft skills. As there are various and often controversial perceptions and understandings of soft skills, the authors' primary goal was to define the term broadly, based on overview of literature and critical comparisons of different approaches to determine the indisputable components of soft skills. The second goal was to find out the varieties of interpretations and various perceptions of soft skills by students and lecturers at universities in Russia.
The authors conducted surveys, covering two target groups: students and lecturers from universities as to their understanding of soft skills, ways for their development through formal education and their perceptions of expectations of the markets related to new hires from universities. In addition to questionnaires, Linkert scale method and comparative analysis were applied. The research shows that there is still a persisting need for further unification of perceptions among the target groups through consorted efforts of universities in incorporating soft skills into traditional qualification or job requirements as well as aligning them with university curriculum at large.
The findings of the research include an overview of literature on soft skills and critical analysis of classifications and approaches, perceptions of the respondents connected with soft skills (definitions, basic soft skills and their evaluation by the respondents, university disciplines best suitable for their development).