15 Hard and Soft Skills High Schoolers Will Need in the Future
If you have a high schooler or a child entering high school soon, you want them to be ready for life as an adult, both in their professional and personal lives. This is why it’s so important that teens learn both the hard and soft skills that are essential to becoming functioning adults.
What are these skills?
We’re going to explore the essential life skills high school students need as well as take a closer look at hard and soft skills so that your child can be as prepared as possible to enter adulthood and join the “real world.”
Related: 11 Life Skills Every Child Should Know
Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills
When you hear people talk about hard skills, they are referring to the knowledge needed to do a job. For example, a person goes to medical school to learn how to become a doctor. These are the hard skills that are taught and practiced.
Soft skills are personal qualities that help someone thrive in life and the workplace. These can be problem-solving skills, communication skills, and other basic life skills. Often, these can be the ones that students lack because so much focus is put into the technical side of things that learning life skills gets pushed aside.
Essential Life Skills High Schoolers Need by Graduation
1. Time Management
Time management skills are essential both in college and in the workforce. Time management means learning to divide tasks and prioritize them to make the most of your time.
This is important to learn so that you can have time to get everything done without stressing out. Using a calendar or daily planner, and setting reminders and alarms can all help to manage your time.
High school students can work on this skill by keeping their assignments in order and completing them as they are due. Logging assignments and events into a planner or a calendar can help to visualize what needs to be done.
Some people also benefit from making a checklist. This way when they’ve completed a task, they can cross it off and feel accomplished.
2. Money Management and Financial Literacy
With online banking becoming the norm these days, high school students may not realize that they still need to have money management skills. From budgeting, saving, and to even writing out a check (yes people still do that), the know-how is just not there.
Financial literacy is necessary to function in life. Young people need to know how to set a budget, save money, and spend wisely.
You can help your child in the decision-making department by giving them an allowance and teaching them how they can spend some of it and save.
Some parents also set up teen debit cards or teen credit cards that give them a taste of financial freedom, but also teach lessons when they don’t have enough money to buy certain things.
3. Communication and Social Skills
Thanks to technology, many young people don’t know how to communicate anymore. Have you ever seen a group of teens spend time together? They are all on their phones texting, snapping, and doing everything but talking to each other. In the real world, you need to be able to have a conversation with another person without using a phone, computer, or relying on social media.
High schools can help teens develop these skills by promoting class discussions that help teens talk to one another. While this may seem foreign to your teenage, encourage them to be more interactive with their friends by talking versus texting.
Knowing how to read body language during a conversation and knowing how to simply talk is a skill that is needed in the real world.
4. Household Management and Meal Prep
Home economics classes used to take care of basic life skills like cooking, knowing how to grocery shop, and even how to use basic tools in a toolbox. But many schools have done away with these types of classes for one reason or another.
At home, you can teach these basic life skills by simply showing your teen how to do them at home. You can have your own life skills class right at home every day! While your teen may not love you for it now, they will appreciate it down the road!
5. Goal-setting skills
Part of the essential life skills that teens need to have include knowing how to set goals. They need to know how to set attainable goals so that they can have a sense of accomplishment when they reach them.
Goals help to motivate teens. Without them, they can seem lost and even become lazy. High school can help teens set goals by giving them benchmarks and deadlines. At home, you can also help them set goals by helping them find something they want to achieve.
6. Social-Emotional Learning
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a vital skill for success in all aspects of life, both personal and professional. If high school students can learn to become more self-aware, practice self-control, and have interpersonal skills, such as conflict resolution, they will be better off.
According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning SEL helps students of all ages by helping them in the following areas:
Teens learn how to respond to a situation based on learned behaviors such as safety and the well-being of others.
Students learn how to recognize their emotions and how they affect their behaviors.
Self-Management and Self-Regulation
Teaches students how to control their thoughts and emotions, and how to set realistic goals.
Shows teens how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes to understand how other people from different backgrounds see things.
Students learn how to build and maintain healthy relationships with a variety of people.
High schools can help teens work on these skills by having them take part in journal writing, giving them a mentor to help them, and even writing a biography of another student.
7. Organizational Skills
Being organized can help save you time and make sure you get everything done. This is important because if you are disorganized, you are more likely to miss appointments and important deadlines.
High school can help your child develop their organizational skills by encouraging them to keep a planner and be accountable for their assignments. Setting deadlines and making sure there are consequences if those deadlines are not met, can help your child become more organized.
8. Basic First Aid
Teaching basic first aid, and possibly even CPR, can help students in the real world. Some high schools do offer CPR classes. These types of skills can help if your teen finds themselves in a dangerous situation as well as help them assist others who may be in distress.
9. Self-Care and Stress Management
When we don’t take care of ourselves, we are more likely to become stressed. Teens are no different. Between school, extracurriculars, and prepping for college, today’s teens are more stressed out than we often acknowledge.
Self-care strategies for teens such as deep breathing, exercise, and seeking out help are all essential coping skills for managing stress in a healthy way. Knowing when a timeout is needed can benefit young adults as they work to gather the life skills to become successful,
Some schools have incorporated yoga classes to help with stress management. Others have physical education classes that promote activity which can help students feel better about themselves. This can make them less stressed and improve their mental health.
Critical Skills to Enter the Future Workforce
While there are many important life skills that high school students need, there are also other critical skills they should have to enter the real world and the future workforce.
Presentation/Public Speaking Skills
Learning how to present ideas effectively is critical in the workforce. Doing research, reporting, and data analysis are vital skills that teens can work on when they are in high school. Many times, teachers will assign a project that requires them to use those skills and hone the ones they may not be doing as well with.
Once they’ve completed their projects, they have to present them in front of the class. While this may come naturally to some students, many get nervous speaking in front of their peers.
By practicing this skill, students will not only do well in their classes but also have the necessary skill to enter the workforce.
While many high schools teach computer skills throughout the school year, it’s always important to emphasize their importance in the workforce.
Being able to use MS Office, Google Drive, and graphic design tools, have all become an integral part of the workforce. As these evolve, it’s important for students to keep up with them so they are ready for what’s ahead.
How to Use AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has proven that is here to stay. High school students need to learn how AI can be used to solve real-life problems. Some education companies have started to create AI curricula for middle school and high school students. The goal is to teach them how to use AI responsibly and to their benefit.
- Analytical Skills
Analytical skills include gathering data, analyzing it, and presenting it so that it has meaning. These skills are often taught in various high school subjects. As students work on these skills, they can improve them so that they can be used in their future careers.
Remote Working/Asynchronous Global Working Skills
Remote work and remote learning are not going away after the pandemic is over. Research shows that approximately 12% of workers are fully remote, while roughly 28 percent are hybrid, and 60 percent work fully in person.
While the ability to work remotely is dependent on the type of work done, high school students should be able to understand this concept and the skills needed to make this happen. This includes knowing how to be organized and having the self-discipline and time management skills to successfully work from home.
Being able to work on your own and be productive is an important skill that high schools can begin to teach by encouraging students to be more independent inside the classroom.
Being a part of the workforce of the future means you have to be able to adapt. Think about how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we all did our work. If employees couldn’t or didn’t adapt, they likely didn’t make it through.
Teaching high school students to be able to adapt is important as they prepare for real-life situations in the workforce. When something doesn’t go as planned, they will learn how to pivot and make the necessary adjustments to make it work.
The Takeaway on Teaching Teens Life Skills
When it comes to life skills that high school students should have before they graduate, it’s important to focus on soft skills as well as hard skills. Things like time and money management, as well as computer skills, are all equally important as students prepare for what lies ahead.
While some high school courses can help to teach the necessary hard skills for the future, it’s also important for parents to do their part at home to help their children when it comes to soft skills and life skills. The more you can help them now, the better off they will be in the future.
For more tips on important skills to teach teens, check out our 5 Steps to Teach Your Teens to Budget.
Committee for Children. (n.d.). What Is Social-Emotional Learning? Retrieved from https://www.cfchildren.org/resources/what-is-social-emotional-learning/
Classcraft. (2020, October 7). 12 SEL activities for high school students. Classcraft Blog - Resource hub for schools and districts. https://www.classcraft.com/blog/features/12-sel-activities-for-high-school-students/
Liu, A. (2021, March 18). Why Children Need To Learn About Artificial Intelligence. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/03/18/why-children-need-to-learn-about-artificial-intelligence/?sh=5ee6d5cb6b6a
Santora, M. (2021, May 28). Do We Know How Many People Are Working From Home? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/28/us/remote-work-census-bureau.htm
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Having previously worked as a news producer, Kristina left the world of television when her second daughter was born, so that she could focus on her family and love of writing.