When you imagine the daily work of a plumber, electrician, or HVAC technician, what comes to mind? Technicians in the trades must have all the skills required to install and repair complex systems, as well as to diagnose any problems that may arise. At the same time, you’ll also need to work with customers and your team to find solutions and deliver great service. It’s extremely important to include soft skills, such as communication and strategic thinking, in vocational training programs to ensure you’re adequately prepared for the full scope of your work. To explain why, NexTech Academy offers a look at the value of soft skills for any tech preparing to enter the field.

What are soft skills?

Simply stated, soft skills allow you to make every interaction with a customer a positive one. As a home service technician, you’ll connect with homeowners on a daily basis to solve problems with their plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. While many of these issues will grow routine to you, they are typically a huge source of stress for the client. The homeowner will likely have many questions about the scope of the work, how it will be completed, and the progress you’re making. At the same time, you may need to answer questions from coworkers, coordinate tasks, and provide estimates as part of any given job.

This is where soft skills are invaluable. When technicians understand the best ways to work with customers and fellow techs, they’re able to deliver the best results and make every job as efficient as possible. A professional demeanor and clear, direct communication help ensure you and the client are on the same page and that everyone understands what needs to be done. At the same time, developing your listening skills makes customers feel heard and gives you a fuller understanding of their problem before you address it. From critical thinking to conflict resolution, these skills can make the difference between winning and retaining new customers and struggling to meet client expectations.

The soft skills gap

Given the elevated need for expertise in the trades, it’s easy to see why technical knowledge is so strongly emphasized in vocational training programs. This is especially true as rapidly advancing technology changes not just the nature of our work, but also the workforce over time. Yet while workers often arrive on the job with technical expertise due to their plumbing, electrical, and HVAC training, employers are finding a soft skills gap and candidates who lack the ability to do one or more of the following:

  • Communicate effectively with others
  • Take leadership on the job
  • Strategize solutions
  • Think creatively
  • Manage unexpected changes
  • Understand the business behind plumbing, electrical, and HVAC service

Without these skills alongside his or her plumber training, for example, a technician can repair a customer’s water heater, but may lack the ability to clearly answer questions and relay to fellow workers how best to approach the job. This can lead to costly delays, frustrating miscommunications, and even lost business as clients seek out service technicians who are better able to address all their needs. And as more and more employers grapple with this gap in skills, the need for soft skills education in online technical training becomes all the more apparent.

How NexTech Academy addresses the gap

In most cases, everyone can benefit from soft skills education to help sharpen existing skills and develop new areas of competency. There are a number of ways to build these skills, from working alongside seasoned professionals to seeking out learning opportunities during vocational training programs. For students enrolled in NexTech Academy’s online technical training, coursework includes soft skills components as well as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC training to ensure trainees are well prepared to enter the field.

Students take part in a focused sales and service program to bridge the gap between technical knowledge and quality customer service. Each engaging video lesson covers topics like communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving, business acumen, and more, as well as how to apply these ideas to your daily work. Upon completion of the program, you’ll have a better understanding of the way interpersonal skills deliver better results for customers and a better working environment for colleagues. And with stronger soft skills and expert technical knowledge, students gain the confidence needed to excel in all aspects of their future careers.

Learn more about soft skills in the trades

NexTech Academy recognizes that it’s not enough to give students a strong foundation in the technical aspects of the trades. Now more than ever, future technicians undergoing electrician, HVAC, and plumber training need the right blend of hard and soft skills to achieve a rewarding career. Contact us today to learn more about online technical training, or check out the next steps for enrolling in one of our programs.

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We have been working hard on improving NexTech Academy, making changes to the program that will reduce the operating expenses. We updated pricing in September 2019, and we are launching new training resources to Nexstar Network members in Spring 2020.

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