Soft Skills – To Stay Human in the Digitalized World

When participating in the Online Annual eTwinning Conference 2022 I had a chance to listen to the keynote speech by the futurist and humanist Gerd Leonhard whose ideas concerning education appealed to me a lot.  As educators we are supposed to teach kids to function in what he calls The PermaChange World. This raises a legitimate question: how to do it successfully to equip our students with the right  knowledge and skills relevant to the jobs they will do in the future, the jobs some of which may even not have been invented yet? I have found the answer I like in Gerd Leonhard’s film entitled How the Future Works: Why your ultimate job is to be HUMAN:

The more we digitize our world, the more human we can and we must become.

And this is where soft skills come.

People Skills

Soft skills are also known as ‘people skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills’ since, contrary to hard skills (technical ones, related to specific technical knowledge and training), they are connected with personality traits and personal abilities that allow people to, among others, communicate effectively and collaborate in teams. Although being mostly innate, they can be developed as well. What is more, they are easily transferable – no matter what jobs our students will do in the future, the skills will be useful. Thus, why not start developing them more intensively in 2023 which is the European Year of Skills?

Development of Brain Power by Bill McConkey – Wellcome Collection, United Kingdom – CC BY.

Teaching Soft Skills with Europeana

Europeana educators have created a wide range of innovative learning scenarios you can us freely to help your students improve soft skills.  Below you will find just a few examples that, I hope, will encourage you to search further and use the teaching materials suitable for your and your students’ needs.


  • Spoken Communication – students develop speaking and listening skills when preparing for a discussion and then discussing the pros and cons of modern and old forms of communication
  • The World We Want – students participate in a class debate on Human Rights practising public speaking skills



Problem solving

  • Let’s Build Bridges – students solve problems when creating functional bridges in teams, developing creative and analytical skills in this way
  • Let’s Invent a World 2023 – students design practical devices that are supposed to solve problems related to SDGs

Critical thinking

Emotional intelligence/ empathy

As already mentioned, the above learning scenarios are only exemplary and the Teaching with Europeana blog is full of such creative resources. Also, it is easily noticeable that actually each of them, when implemented, allows the educator to develop several soft skills in their students. What is more, it is done by means of adequate digital tools that are chosen and used in such a well thought-out way that the human factor is enhanced in young people.

Soft skills get little respect but they will make or break your career. / Peggy Klaus/

Luckily, nowadays soft skills are getting more and more respect (check out the Forbes article) as they can definitely make or break our students’ careers and so they do deserve our attention. Thus, why don’t you upskill your students softly and share the results by contributing to the blog as well?

By Katarzyna Siwczak, Europeana Education Ambassador

CC0 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Wellcome Collection.

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