Social skills pay

By | January 20, 2018

Teach them math but social skills first. Social skills play a much bigger role in job growth than math alone, based on this analysis by David Deming of Harvard University, for data spanning 1980-2012.

Social skills in wage and employment growth

As the world increasingly moves towards automation, the labor market rewards social skills more than other skills, even more than skills from highly touted STEM fields. In fact, social skills are bigger player for employment and wage growth based on this analysis. People with higher social skills move into less structured jobs that pay more as computers are still ages away from jobs that require tacit knowledge and have no predefined algorithms.

Jobs requiring high math skills but low social skills shrank by 3.3% from 1980 to 2012. In contrast, jobs requiring social skills increased by 12%. ‘Team production where workers “trade tasks” to exploit their comparative advantage’ helps ‘reduce coordination costs, allowing workers to specialize and work together more efficiently’.

Of course, having both high math as well as social skills is a big winner. Hourly wages for jobs with both these skills grew by 26% compared to a 5.9% growth for those will high math, low social skills.

Expect more engineers applying to business schools.

Source: The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market by David J. Daming, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 132, Issue 4, 1 November 2017, Pages 1593–1640

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