Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Jane Jensen


The problem of a prepared workforce is perennial. Part of the challenge is one of supply and demand, as education systems attempt to produce graduates with the technical competencies required for the current jobs available. In the new service- and knowledge-based economy, however, soft skills are cited as a greater need by today’s employers. Increasingly sought across all industry sectors, these skills allow employees to work independently and interdependently, respond rapidly to customer needs, and adjust to changing market conditions. As a result, institutions of higher education are being called upon to infuse soft skills into their curricula. In this three-manuscript dissertation, first the implications for higher education, with Kentucky serving as a prime example, are assessed. Second, potential higher education predictors of success on a soft skills assessment—college admissions tests, grades, coursework, socioeconomic measures, and work-based learning—are examined through a quantitative study. Third, the importance of soft skills is considered in the context of capitalist societies and the purposes of education as a human endeavor. The case may be made that soft skills, rather than being a subset of workforce preparation or higher education, may be thought of as the fundamental intellectual tools of humanity.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)