Soft skills are a collection of people management skills. In the current economic atmosphere of the oil and gas industry, technical skills alone are insufficient for career success. Engineering professionals tend to prioritize technical skills over soft skills, however, the demands of their jobs require effective leading, speaking, listening, communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution "soft skills". The industry has had to make some very difficult decisions in the last few years. Many companies have opted to hire or retain technical professionals with excellent soft skills, who are adaptable, effective communicators, who are adept at collaboration and team management.

Technical skills and Soft skills if combined, create a synergistic effect that enables the technical professional to effectively communicate their needs or strategies. Being able to effectively communicate through confident speaking, listening, feedback, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and effective interpersonal skills create a positive environment that is conducive to a successful outcome through collaboration. Increasing numbers of University Petroleum Engineering Programs are beginning to add "soft skills" to their curriculum because they recognize the human to human skill factor is crucial to overall technical career success.

With the rigorous demands of the engineering curriculum, it is difficult for academia to provide adequate training in soft skills. This is one of the reasons that SPE has initiated a Soft Skills Committee, offering Webinars, Workshops, ATCE Sessions, Journal Articles, and Papers, to provide crucial soft skills training in the industry and to direct technical professionals to other avenues of training to enhance their abilities, thereby increasing their effectiveness in their chosen technical careers.

With the loss of over 350,000 jobs in the recent industry downturn, this paper the results of quantitative and qualitative studies which provide insight into the importance of soft skills and how they relate to the success of technical professionals. Data will be provided through industry market trends, professional studies of soft skills for engineer’s career success, and surveys of industry management. It will be illustrated that the blending of technical knowledge with effective soft skills abilities can increase the overall success of the engineer, and the success of the company.

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