Employers are spending big to find people who possess skills that once might have been taken for granted. A column in this morning's Wall Street Journal explains  what skills are so hard to find:

Companies across the U.S. say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co-workers.

Those traits, often called soft skills, can make the difference between a standout employee and one who just gets by.

While such skills have always appealed to employers, decades-long shifts in the economy have made them especially crucial now. Companies have automated or outsourced many routine tasks, and the jobs that remain often require workers to take on broader responsibilities that demand critical thinking, empathy or other abilities that computers can’t easily simulate.

. . .

In a Wall Street Journal survey of nearly 900 executives last year, 92% said soft skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. But 89% said they have a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the requisite attributes. Many say it’s a problem spanning age groups and experience levels.

 . . .

The ability to communicate trumped all else, followed by organization, capacity for teamwork, punctuality, critical thinking, social savvy, creativity and adaptability.

The article doesn't offer theories on why potential employees with soft skills are so hard to find, but let me suggest one. Schools may be politically correct these days but are they so eager to offer trendy courses that they neglect the basics? Maybe now is a good time to diagram sentences? Just a thought.

Soft skills have always been important but in an information society the need is even greater. According to the article, the combination of soft skills and good grades can net multiple job offers.