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Jim Tolbert - CEO of Vista College

Listen to Jim Tolbert, CEO of Vista College, discuss the importance of both hard and soft skills for millennials. You’ll learn examples of each and how employers can help grow both soft and hard skills. Listen to the audio clip below or read through the transcript.

Chris Williams:

What would you say to someone sitting in HR who’s facing this situation right now? What could they begin to do? What types of tips and advice would you give them based on what you see coming through your door who are looking for education from Vista?

Jim Tolbert:

Well, I think there’s sort of two ways to answer your question, the hard skills and the soft skills. The hard skills is– and what you just described is happening frankly in so many industries and in so many companies today, whether it’s in nursing – where exactly what you just described, you’re having this huge sort of cohort of people retiring from the nursing industry – whether it’s plumbers who are leaving and retiring. There’s a whole slew of people that need to be replaced that have created a skill set over decades of a working life, and it’s going to be very difficult. So I think one of the things I would tell an HR department, just for the hard-skill part of it, is either partner with a school like Vista College to make sure that you do have the employees that you can put into place that do have the hard skills, or you better be really looking at recruiting people who have exited school, are in the workplace, and have a very thoughtful recruiting plan to back-fill those hard skills. So that’s sort of one answer to the question because what I have not seen in the United States is a lot of employers investing money in hard-skill training of their employees. And that’s why schools like Vista College exist because we’re filling that incredibly important gap in this country between the difference of supply and demand of hard skills.

“…what I have not seen in the United States is a lot of employers investing money in hard-skill training of their employees. And that’s why schools like Vista College exist because we’re filling that incredibly important gap in this country between the difference of supply and demand of hard skills.” – Jim Tolbert, CEO of Vista College

So beyond the hard skills is kind of the soft-skills training. And this is something, as an employer and not as a college, we spend an awful lot of time thinking about and investing in our employees. So for example, when someone who is very good at whatever technical skill they have, be it in our financial aid department, in our admissions department, or what have you, but when those individuals get promoted to be supervisors, for example, that’s a whole nother skill set that some people have naturally. Frankly, most people don’t. And if employers ignore that soft-skill training, leadership training, supervisor training, conflict resolution– there’s a whole slew of skills that I would put under that soft-skill training. If employers ignore that, don’t assume it’s going to get done automatically, or everyone’s just going to have the intuition to figure it out themselves. I think employers are going to have to invest in that training for their employees, the soft skills as well as the hard skills.

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