THEY MAY be able to use Facebook to launch a campaign to persuade a band to play in their town or keep in touch with friends but it appears today’s tech-savvy school leavers need help with the “lost” art of conversation.
Now a project aimed at teaching the social media generation the soft skills of engaging and talking to other people has been piloted at Kinross High School in Kinross-shire.
More than 150 fourth-year pupils attended the four-day Made in Scotland Partnership course which tackled the face-to-face conversational skills needed not only at job interviews but also to communicate effectively with others in the work place and on while on work placements.
Gary Robinson, whose Tayside-based company GRC usually provides training in communication and personal skills for adults in business, also invited along a range of speakers to give first-hand tips on what employers expect from young people.
The speakers included Charlie Taylor, who runs a hairdressing chain, Garry Spence, a radio presenter from Capital FM, and Scott Anderson, British long-track speed skating champion.
Mr Robinson, who has a background in radio, said: “Most young people are excellent at social media but many have lost the art of dealing with people face-to-face.
“While they can talk to friends they can need a bit of help in preparing for interviews and then how to engage with adults in the workplace.
“I teach simple things like encouraging them to be brave enough to start a conversation, introducing themselves in the workplace, making eye contact and smiling.
“There’s also an emphasis on being approachable and answering in full and not just giving ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers. If someone’s going on a work placement I’d say to offer to do things to make a good impression.
“Employers are looking for ‘likeability’ and a bit of spark. Charlie Taylor said that while hairdressing is about skills, these can be taught, but getting the job is about attitude.”
Sarah Brown, the school’s head teacher, said: “There are so many opportunities where these interpersonal skills will prove invaluable.”
Mr Robinson wants to take the Made In Scotland Partnership to schools Scotland-wide, and intends negotiating with the Scottish Government and potential industry sponsors.