Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Davis, James

Committee Member

Irvin, Lemond

Committee Member

Wiseman, Marty

Committee Member

Stonecypher, Wayne

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


Soft skills include communication skills, problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, working well with other people, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Employers need employees who have adequate technical skills but who also have soft skills. There is limited information about the perceptions of which soft skills are needed in the workplace. This study attempted to close the gap in the literature concerning the perceptions of instructors and employers in the area of soft skills in the workplace. For this study, the Soft Skills Survey for Instructors and Employers was used to gather the perceptions of information technology instructors and employers in five community college districts of northeastern Mississippi concerning the importance of soft skills in the workplace. Sixteen instructors and 17 employers participated in this study answering the online survey with a 4-point Likert-type scale. A statistically significant difference was found between the perceptions of the instructors and the perceptions of the employers on four of the soft skills listed on the survey. These soft skills were “communicates clearly verbally,” “communicates clearly in writing,” “adapts to changes easily,” and “dresses appropriately.” The instructors placed a higher importance on these soft skills than did the employers. The reasons for this can be attributed to the differences between the classroom setting and the workplace. There was no statistically significant difference between the perceptions of the importance of the other 21 soft skills listed on the survey. This study concluded that instructors teach the skills students need to get and keep a job, while employers are more concerned with the skills needed to perform the task at hand. This study provides a baseline for research on soft skills in the workplace. Recommendations for further research include using the Soft Skills Survey for Instructors and Employers in different educational settings and in other areas of the United States.