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Going soft

November 16, 2009
By Rae Kruger

MARSHALL - Dulce Presas was skeptical at first when she heard she'd be taking a soft skills class as part of her certified nursing assistant training.

"Soft skills, I thought, what does soft skills have to do with a CNA class," Presas said.

On the last day of the soft skills portion of the CNA course, Presas said she learned soft skills had plenty to do with being a CNA.

Article Photos

Photo by Rae Kruger

Shirley Hiller of JobJockeys, an employment and employee training agency in Marshall, teaches the soft skills class recently in Marshall.

"I want to be a CNA but I want to work at a better job and continue in the field of medicine, like nursing," Presas said.

Soft skills taught her about goal setting, defining what she wants to do in the future, how to improve her relationships, including those at work, Presas and other CNA students said.

Shirley Hiller of JobJockeys, an employment and employee training agency in Marshall, teaches the soft skills class to students in the CNA program and others in the workforce through a relationship with Marshall Adult Basic Education and the state Workforce Center office in Marshall.

Thomas said ABE's involvement in soft skills was in direct response to the business community which said employees, including managers, could use more training in goal setting, work relationships, attitudes and similar areas.

Hiller said soft skills are life skills and apply to the workplace because the workplace has relationships, conflict, the need for direction and goals and other skills.

An employee having a conflict with another employee can focus on changing his attitude to be more positive to that employee, Hiller said. The attitude of the other employee may not change but the employee who chooses to have a more positive attitude will improve the relationship, Hiller said.

CNA student Cecilia Gilbertson said soft skills are not always thought of in a job and "quite frankly even if you did, who would you go ask" for help.

Thomas said the ABE was hearing similar comments and decided it could help provide needed soft skills training.

Gilbertson said the class gave her a better perspective on goal setting and handling work situations.

"We will be working with all kinds of different people with all kinds of different needs," CNA student Angela Roker said.

"This helps you know how to deal with that."

Hiller said employees may have the technical skills to do the job but may lack in the interpersonal skills to lead, to deal with others and handle other relationship situations at work. They may not be able to focus on setting goals or finding ways to improve themselves or the job, Hiller said.

Soft skills help employees at all levels learn how to better work with people, how to set goals to improve work and their personal lives and ultimately it helps keep employees happier in the workplace, Hiller said.



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