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Are there differences between IT & soft skills training?


Do you think there is a difference between the skills and approaches needed by soft skills trainers as opposed to IT trainers?

Many thanks
Margaret Sergeant
[email protected]

margaret sergeant

10 Responses

  1. standards in delivery skills should be the same
    The standards in terms of skills for soft skills and IT trainers should be the same. Trainers – of whatever discipline – require product knowledge and delivery skills. There are techniques for facilitating learning which can help when you bring technology into the classroom.

    The standards from the International Board for Standards in Training Performance and Instruction can be applied to both IT and soft skills trainers. They can be found at

  2. I feel there are some key differences
    Although I agree that there is some similarities between the two roles, I feel that it can be broken down into soft/hard skills. (includes Product Knowledge training.)As a Training Consultant I have trained both and feel that training soft skills has infinitely more variables.
    1. In soft skills what works for one person may not work for another.
    2. In soft skills you are also constantly looking for non-verbal signals and the reality behind the rhetoric, usually in an artificial environment. (Especially when learners are amongst peers and/or leaders.)
    3. In soft skills the most promising/ enthusiastic student on a course may struggle with applying the learning to the workplace, therefore additional help/evaluation needs to be done after training.
    4.In hard skills what is right/wrong may well be clearly defined.
    This is not a definative list and other readers may identify more.

    Graham Price

  3. Practising what is preached – in all situations
    Hi Margaret,
    By difference I assume you are asking if maybe they should be delivered differently. In essence I would say not. The essence of training is to increase the trainees skill levels so the only difference is the subject matter. The actual delivery method (soft skills used by trainer) should remain the same, assuming that the soft skills trainer is practising what he/she preaches ( and the IT trainer is versed in using soft skills properly). That said there will be some difference in energy as soft skills is inherently interactive whilst IT tends to be sedentary. But my experience of receiving IT training is that there could be more interaction and a great deal more use of a facilitative or coaching style. (I’m a SS facilitator and will also be delivering IT training sometime in the next 6 months so I will have to practice what I preach – watch this space!)
    [email protected]

  4. Differences between IT and Softskills
    I agree with Nigel that softskills was traditionally interactive and IT training sedentary – in some quarters that remains the same. There have been moves over the last few years to change that the way in which IT training is delivered hence the reason for certifications for IT trainers – CTT+ and to some extent TAP are designed to make IT Training more interactive and participative.

    Having working in both management development and IT training, I think the skills are largely the same. The IT Training industry was/is less mature and in the past less emphasis has been placed on the trainers’ delivery skills. Additionally, IT Trainers had to invest a great deal in technical skills (seen as a priority) and so the difference in quality arose. The situation is changing…just slowly…! Debates still rage in the IT Training industry about whether IT trainers should be qualified!

    But good luck with the IT Training.

  5. Skills Transfer v Behaviour Change
    If I teach someone how to drive can I then go on and use exactly the same techniques to help them overcome “road rage”. Whilst at a very basic level good training practice would be the same the emphasis might be different. I think I would need far greater understanding of rapport building, questioning techniques, handling group interaction and how to read and change my own state and that of the group.

  6. Teaching someone to drive = behaviour change
    I take Paul’s point but I would say that the transfer of any set of skills be they technically based, practically based or emotionally based requires good soft skills techniques for it to be successful. There will be a variation in extent or depth of the skills used dependent on the needs of the individual(s)and subject(s) involved.

    As for teaching someone to drive, I would consider that there would be a significant level of SS element to that process.

    [email protected]

  7. Transfer of skills
    Having made the transition from soft-skills training to IT training, I can confirm that the delivery skills are most certainly transferrable.

    In fact, I have found my situation advantageous – first came the training skills, then the technical knowledge. In my opinion, the latter is easier to learn than the former.

    Furthermore, as I find myself in the position to train users “from scratch” on a powerful software tool, it’s been wonderful to have had the insight of how things look trough the eyes of a first-time user.

  8. IT Training and Soft Skills Training
    Yesterday I was teaching Microsoft Visio 2000. Today I was teaching Problem Solving. Two very different courses, yet my training style remained the same.

    I didn’t expect my participants to sit back and listen in either course. I encouraged movement, groupwork, participation, questioning, active feedback… In my interaction with the participants, whatever skills they are learning, I needed to establish rapport, I had to keep checking their understanding, monitor their verbal and non-verbal responses…

    In fact, we are so convinced that there are no substantive differences that we don’t just have separate IT and soft skills courses. Rather, we specialise in courses that combine both types of skills to meet business requirements, e.g. Report Writing using Word, Presentation Skills using PowerPoint, Project Planning using Project, etc.

    Why should someone have to attend one course that teaches how to structure a report and how to write well, and a completely different course that teaches how to use the long document tools in Word? Why not combine them into one course, if the participants need to acquire both skills. That way, the learning is integrated, with the participants learning the soft skills in a practical way, using the software tool that is available to them.

    If you’d like any more information on how we combine IT and soft skills in our courses, please get in touch.

    Nici Aldridge
    A2Z Computer Services
    [email protected]

  9. Soft vs IT Training Skills
    Having read the comments I think that the person who said that in the old days IT Trainers didn’t always have the soft skills was absolutely right – and sadly, in some cases he’s still right! However, as an IT trainer who has also done soft skills training on occassion, I can confirm that I use similar skills – enthusiasm, energy and empathy at all times (and it’s always exhausting if you’re doing it well!).

  10. The ideal is often contrasted by reality…but it does not have
    Historically, IT Training is conducted in a manner that is not necessarily “interpersonally friendly”. Interestingly, Senior IT Executives & Corporate Training personnel have come to recognize that IT Managers & Professionals benefit themselves & the organizations for whom they work when they receive “soft skills training”. On site, facilitator led interpersonal skills training is especially effective if it is IT specific. One corporation that has led the movement to assist IT departments align themselves as partners with the other business units in an Enterprise is Rockville Center, NY based Interpersonal Technology Group, founded in 1981.


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