Breckenridge Texan

TSTC speaker emphasizes ‘soft skills’ in technical training

TSTC speaker emphasizes ‘soft skills’ in technical training
July 18
10:31 2018

Texas State Technical College students in Breckenridge had a chance to pick up some real-world career tips at the student appreciation luncheon on Tuesday when a recruiter from an international corporation talked to them about the skills that employers are looking for.

Joe Razza is a recruiter for Crown Equipment Corporation, an electric forklift manufacturer with more than 15,000 employees worldwide, including at 70 locations in the United States that provide servicing and support for equipment such as forklifts, scissor lifts and more. He discussed the importance of the students developing their “soft skills,” as well as their technical skills – or “hard skills” – for career success.

“’Soft skills’ is how you present yourself and your professionalism, things like that – that’s an art form,” he said. “And a lot of people obtain those skills or have those skills and they just don’t let them shine.  And that’s what they need to work on.”

Razza said a lot of students, not just at TSTC but at schools in general, assume that if they have the hard, technical skills, they’re good. He said the technical and trade schools that Crown Equipment Corporation works with produce graduates with the skills necessary to be successful in a technical atmosphere, but the company also needs employees who can be successful dealing with customers, especially since their technicians go out to the customers’ locations.

“They wear a lot of hats. They’re essentially the face of the company, and we wanted them to be more comfortable in (customer relations),” he said. “So we started doing soft skills training.”

Some of the soft skills Razza talked to the students about included making a good first impression by having a firm handshake and smiling. “If you can make good eye contact, smile, make a connection with the person, it goes a long way,” he said.

One of the most important soft skills that people can have is listening to the customer, he said. That includes asking questions about the problem and not making assumptions.

Razza also spoke about some things employees shouldn’t do when dealing with customers, such as venting to the customer about personal frustrations or complaining about the company they work for.

When Crown Equipment recruiters are interviewing prospective employees, Razza said, they often look more at their soft skills than their hard skills. “So, if they have a good head on their shoulders, a positive attitude and professionalism, we can train them to be successful in anything after that,” he said.

Razza said Crown Equipment Corporation developed the program that he presented Tuesday because they wanted to start giving back to the schools to help them produce more effective employees. As the recruiter for Texas and Louisiana, Razza makes it a point to visit all of the TSTC campuses to talk with the students and encourage them to develop their soft skills.

“Instructors and faculty are already telling them this, but to hear it from an employer and hear the other side of the spectrum, it kind of puts it in perspective,” he said. “Then, they can kind of hone those skills. That’s what we want to do – help them along the way so by the time they graduate and pursue employment, they are already set up.”

Debbie Karl, executive director of the Breckenridge TSTC campus, said soft skills are something employers look for in their graduates, which is why it’s important to provide their students with programs like the one presented by Razza on Tuesday.

“At TSTC, we believe that we do a great job giving our students a technical education and giving them the technical skills that they need,” she said. “It’s soft skills that the younger generations are lacking. And we want to make sure our students are well rounded, that they’re the complete technicians, not just with the technical skills, but they have the soft skills … to be a good employee to all the employers we service.”

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Joe Razza, a regional recruiter for Crown Equipment Corporation, speaks to Breckenridge TSTC students on Tuesday at their student appreciation luncheon. Razza talked to the students about the importance of soft skills, as well as technical skills, on the job. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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