ARE SOFT SKILLS BEING ACHIEVED IN THE SPANISH UNIVERSITIES?

Since the RD (Royal Decree) 1393/2007, Spanish universities, both public and private ones, have been driven to comply with new ways of understanding the teaching-learning duo. To change the learning methodologies from the old studies (Licenciaturas) to the new Grades, the universities have faced many challenges that now, ten years later, maybe are still in process or, which could be worse, have never been worked at all.

One of these changes was the introduction of the so called soft skills, i.e., leadership, team work, communication skills... The Annex I in RD 1393/2007 compels universities in Spain to evaluate and certify that their students have acquired the soft skills they say to have been taught.

The researchers had the perception that none of them have been done: neither the evaluation of soft skills nor their certification as the RD states it should be done. And that perception motivated them to investigate if Spanish universities were complying with it and in that case how they were doing it.

So they looked for evidences to demonstrate their intuition by planning a questionnaire that was sent to all 76 Spanish universities that teach engineering or architecture programs.

The objective of this paper is to discuss the answers that universities sent back in order to verify their hypothesis. The results show that they were quite close to their perception: none of the universities that answered the questionnaire are certifying that the students have gained any soft skill and only a handful of them have reported they evaluate them in somehow.

The paper shows the questions, the answers and the conclusions about the Spanish university system in the HEA (Higher Education Area) and suggests some ways to manage these two key points in the Bologna process: the evaluation of soft skills and the certification of its achievement.

The main conclusion of the research is that the implementation of the RD 1393/2007 results too difficult for the university system since it implies different issues to manage: training the teachers to instruct the students to accomplish soft skills, evaluating the skills gained, to follow the progress of every skill thought the Grade years and to certificate that each student has achieved every skill.

The researchers propose to abolish the Annex I since it appears as compulsory and it seems impossible to reach or to set major efforts to assist universities to implement it by giving them all the necessary means.