Workplace changes to hybrid and remote work models has altered our day-to-day interactions and reformed employment expectations. The transition has led to a reassessment of ‘soft’ skills resulting in an elevation of strong communications, interpersonal proficiencies and and critical thinking to ‘power’ skills. The recategorization acknowledges the increasing impact of these skills in creating effective and productive work environments. Connection of ‘power’ to the skills adds value for the time and effort invested to develop competencies. Students enrolled at New Jersey’s independent colleges and universities are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities inside and outside the classroom that build “power” skills as part of their college experience.
Developing “power” skills starts in the classroom. Each year, ICUNJ asks its scholarship recipients why they chose an independent college. The most frequent response is the connection they felt to faculty and campus during a site visit. The opportunity to build a relationship with a professor because of smaller class sizes and the demonstrated investment of faculty in student success was the deciding factor. (Class Size Matters) The faculty and the classroom offer more than a place of textbook learning as they provide a forum for an interactive exchange of knowledge fostering engagement, collaboration and inclusiveness. Students are challenged to look beyond their comfort zone to understand how their interests, pursuits and course majors relate to a larger world. The New Jersey independent college classroom with an average faculty to student ratio of 12:1 provides the foundation upon which ‘power’ skills can be developed, tested and refined.
The interactive nature of ‘power’ skills extends to campus activities. Skills learned and practiced in controlled safety of the classroom need to be applied in more dynamic settings. Campus activities and experiential learning offer situations for growth and improvement of “skills that cannot be replicated ore replaced by machines.” (Doherty, 2023) These environments allow application of ‘power’ skills to yield different outcomes and introduce another level of accountability which helps address skill gaps. Outside the classroom, goals are often team driven, e.g., raising money for food insecurity, staffing after-school programs, and meeting project deadlines. The opportunities for collaboration and leadership are expanded. Defining the skills as ‘power’ becomes more obvious when interacting with supervisors, peers and the public;, managing time and performance; and building work or project driven relationships.
‘Power’ skills are redefined factors for career and life endeavors. Martina Doherty related in a recent article, “Developing and leveraging ‘soft’ or human-centered skills such as communication, social and emotional intelligence, listening, empathy, relationship building, agile thinking and intercultural fluency have always been recognized as important for effective leadership. But in a world that now expects a more a humanistic approach to leading, the narrative has tilted significantly towards these being necessary skills rather than simply important.” The independent colleges in New Jersey are empowering students to realize their goals by discovering their ‘power’ skills as part of their academic journey and understanding how to effectively apply these skills identified as key contributing factors to well-being and happiness.
 Doherty, M. (2023, April 17). HRD. Retrieved from The HR Director: https://www.thehrdirector.com/features/leadership/soft-skills-new-power-skills/