Skills for the Future

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This year we’ve seen a great deal of change from how our kids are going to school, how we celebrate birthdays, even how we held our 4-H Presentations competition. I look forward to and hope to see new and old faces at our 2021 competitions, the life skills learned virtual or face to face are invaluable. The truth is that every year that passes it seems harder and harder to prepare our teenagers and young adults to enter the workforce; this year has only highlighted that fact. Between new emerging markets and the robotizing of old positions, there is a constant need for the acquisition of new hard skills. However, even life-long dedication to learning isn’t enough to make one competitive in the labor market. According to the USAID Office of Education, workers also need to be fluent in several soft skills.

What are Soft Skills? For that matter what are Hard Skills? Hard Skills are the cumulation of all formal education and technical training with an emphasis on STEM. Soft Skills however, are knowledge of and ability to utilize relation skills and emotional intelligence. All of these soft skills are integral to a person’s ability to collaborate with coworkers and to provide superior understanding to clients. Many employers rate the importance of Soft Skills equal to a prospective employee’s skill and training with Hard Skills. Soft Skills that were deemed especially important were high-order thinking skills (or critical thinking/analysis), self-control, social skills or emotional intelligence, and communication.

While all of these skills are important and valued across fields, communication was most often given extremely high importance. Employers found the ability for their employees to clearly and concisely articulate information to both coworkers and clients, through written and oral means, integral to their institution’s success. Further, effective communication often indicates good social and relation skills, increasing effectiveness in teamwork. Most employers actively seek employees who cannot only succeed in a team environment, but thrive in it.

Can these Soft Skills be acquired through traditional formal education? What else can be done to expand our young peoples’ Soft Skills? Soft Skills can be learned, to an extent, through school however, there can never be enough opportunities for teens and younger kids to practice communication and their social relation skills. A great opportunity for youth to engage with one another while building their oral and written communication skills, is to participate in North Carolina 4-H’s Presentation Competition.

To prepare for the NC 4-H Southeast District Presentation Competition our youth can participate in our Pamlico County 4-H Spring Presentation Group. In this group, youth will be able to work on their active listening skills, extemporaneous speaking, and formal speaking. By engaging with other youth in team activities, they will develop their relation abilities, and effective communication. Our big project will be for each participant to research and write a presentation and practice for our County Activity Day before going on to our district competition in June.

For more information on the 4-H Presentations program or to learn about our Book Explorers’ program and other fall 4-H Fun check out our website. If you are interested in participating or learning more about any of these programs, follow us on social media for real time updates or give our office a call 252-745-4121. To register for these or any 4-H program, check out our website: All registrations are on online. Our first Book Explorers will be on September 30th, and we will be going to Spain. We will also have a series of fall science workshops. Stay tuned for a complete fall schedule and to learn about our COVID 19 contingency plans to ensure that even if we can’t be together we will be able to continue our workshops. We will ensure that registered participants are able to complete our adventures and challenges even in their own homes. If you are interested in our Fall Fun Programs or want to learn more about the 4-H Program in Pamlico County contact Kait Neeland at (252) 745-4121, or, or check us out online at Don’t FORGET to REGISTER, spaces will fill up!!