Skills for the 21st Century: A Meta-Synthesis of Soft-Skills and Achievement


  • Nicole E. Lee University of Windsor


higher education, soft-skills, non-cognitive skills, student success, student retention, workforce, job-ready, achievement


Higher education can be both memorable and a vital pathway to the workforce. However, entering post-secondary life with the cognitive ability to handle the academic rigor is often not enough to succeed and persist in an environment that requires students to also possess soft-skills such as resilience, adaptability, perseverance, self-advocacy, and self-regulation (Adams, 2012; Cunha & Heckman, 2007; Egalite, Mills, & Greene, 2016). Therefore, this meta- synthesis sought to gain a better understanding of soft-skills deficits in adult learners by synthesizing current Canadian studies on the topic. It was found that interventions in higher education that resulted in soft-skills acquisition among learners were commonly geared toward graduate students  and tied to social interactions among community agencies, faculty members, and peer groups. Thus, further research is discussed around examining the reciprocal effects of peer-mentoring on the soft-skills development of first-year undergraduate students, as well as the long-term impact this approach might have on student retention, achievement, and success beyond higher education.


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How to Cite

Lee, N. E. . (2018). Skills for the 21st Century: A Meta-Synthesis of Soft-Skills and Achievement. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 17(2), 73–86. Retrieved from