With an increase of 27 percent in undergraduate enrollment since 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, more qualified people with a strong set of hard skills are entering the workforce. But what many are not paying attention to is that employers are prioritizing candidates who possess an array of soft skills.

Soft skills are personal attributes, which contribute to a successful work environment, such as good communications skills, time management, and emotional intelligence.

“We understand that for our students to remain competitive in the current workforce and be a strong candidate for high-paying positions, they need to possess a solid set of soft skills. For employers, the academic knowledge is not enough,” explains Lulrick Balzora, dean of Academic Affairs for the Social Behavioral Sciences and Human Services (SBSHS) pathway.

Providing Critical Training

Professional Enhancement Program sessionThe SBSHS pathway has created the Professional Enhancement Program (PEP), to equip students with the necessary soft skills needed in today’s workforce. Through PEP, students can participate in internships, research projects, practical experiences, and opportunities to shadow community leaders.

Part of the PEP curriculum is a soft skills training that takes place every Friday over ten weeks during the summer and 16 weeks during the spring and fall semesters. Students have the opportunity to learn from guest speakers who discuss the applications of soft skills in the workplace and everyday life, book discussions, and classroom projects.

“It’s important that the students understand that their soft skills can be applied in every aspect of their life, not only at the workplace. The guest speakers do a great job of making this point by showing them how they apply it in their lives,” says Balzora.

Making a Deep Impact

Participants of the programs value the training it provides to them. But for most, PEP has made a deeper impact on their lives. “The Professional Enhancement Program taught me how to apply the leadership skills I learned during my time in the military in my everyday life, and even as a college student and future professional,” says Rahjanni Lusi, social work major.

When 32-year old Rahjanni left the military after eight years, she found it difficult to transition into civilian life. She was deployed several times to Afghanistan and found herself struggling with PTSD.

“Before getting involved in the PEP, I was uncomfortable, lonely, and struggling with certain issues from my military life. But once I found the program, I found what I was lacking: a sense of belonging and comradery,” says Rahjanni. “It has been a life-changing experience, and it greatly helped my transition into civilian life.”

Rahjanni’s ultimate goal is to become a mental health advocate and thanks to PEP, she’s being mentored by a therapist and has had the opportunity to see what it is like to work in the field.

Employers in today’s workplace are valuing soft skills over hard skills. Contact Lulrick Balzora at (954) 201-6514 or lbalzora@broward.edu and learn more about the free training provided by the SBSHS pathway. This program is open to all students.

Ready to change the world? Rewarding career opportunities such as Social Work, Psychology, and International Relations are available through the SBSHS pathway. Register today!