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“Soft skills” are a general term for the skills needed in almost every job. While most are non-technical—reading, writing, communication skills—they are still vital to employee success in the workplace. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 89% of recruiters say when a hire doesn’t work out, it usually comes down to a lack of soft skills.

While technical skills or competencies—like welding or carpentry—are an important part of a skilled workforce, well-rounded employees with both technical and employability skills are critical to the success of a business.

Filling the Need for Soft Skills Assessments

At NBS, we help our clients accurately identify the skills and knowledge of their workforces. While we are known primarily for assessments focused on industry-specific competency skills like masonry or industrial maintenance, we also recognize the importance of evaluating soft skills.

NBS has developed two comprehensive soft skills assessments.

21st Century Skills for Workplace Success was developed in 2009 and significantly revised in 2016. It contains 144 questions to help evaluate reading, math, writing, listening, computer applications, work ethic, collaboration, and more. A full percentage breakdown of competencies is available in the assessment’s blueprint.

Employability Skills is an entry-level assessment developed in 2019. Its 111 questions are specifically designed to measure critical thinking, resource management, information use, communication, technology, and interpersonal skills. Please review the assessment blueprint for a more detailed breakdown.

Both soft skills assessments were developed with NBS’s sister organization, NOCTI, and are based on industry standards developed by subject matter experts and industry professionals. Like many of our tests, a panel of subject matter experts regularly reviews the soft skills assessments to ensure they are relevant and accurately measure the skills most important to employers.

Additionally, the tests are part of NBS’s Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program, where test takers can earn college credit for scoring at or above the benchmark. The National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) has evaluated these soft skills assessments and recommended college credit equivalent. Over 1,500 colleges and universities recognize NCCRS and will potentially grant college credit for scoring 70% or higher. See the full NCCRS College List here.

Taking Advantage of Soft Skills Assessments

Soft skills assessments are a great fit for organizations looking for an aptitude testing solution or for a pre-hire screening tool.

Aptitude tests are often used to determine a candidate’s potential skill (not current technical skill level). For example, the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and American College Testing Exam (ACT) are forms of aptitude testing to evaluate a student’s college readiness. Employers can use these soft skills assessments to find out if the candidate has the potential to be successful within their organizations.

Many of our clients in the manufacturing industry use the 21st Century Skills for Workplace Success as a screening tool during the hiring process. Hiring managers can determine an applicant’s workplace readiness (reading, writing, math, communication, and interpersonal skills) before moving through other stages of the hiring process.

The 21st Century Skills for Workplace Success assessment is offered at a lower cost, making it a good fit for organizations in our Workforce Development Program. This program is designed to assist nonprofit workforce development entities who are actively providing training programs to displaced workers, individuals looking to upskill, and youth who are no longer seeking a high school diploma at a traditional high school. Individuals in these programs have the opportunity to earn a Workforce Competency Credential, which helps communicate to employers that they have the skills to be successful on the job.

Build a Skilled Workforce with NBS

Kay Cole, Business & Industry Coordinator at NBS, says many of the clients she works with are pleasantly surprised by how robust the assessments are, “I think a lot of people are expecting a self-assessment ethics quiz or a twenty question reading and math test. But when we start reviewing the assessment to see if it’s a good fit, clients can see the quality of the assessment and that it’s going to give them quality results they can actually use. These aren’t ‘fluff’ tests that will mislead them or prompt candidates to fill in answers they think employers want to hear. Our soft skills assessments are comprehensive tools that give an accurate and reliable picture of a candidate’s workplace readiness.”

Want to build a more competent and well-rounded workforce? Contact NBS to see if our soft skills assessments are a good fit for your organization.