Shepherd professor’s research shows impact of unemployment on various groups
Research done by a Shepherd University business professor explores whether unemployment is an economic or social issue. Nicolas Pologeorgis, assistant professor of business administration, presented the paper titled “Unemployment: An Economic Problem or a Social Issue?” at the International Academy of Business and Public Administration Disciplines (IABPAD) meeting last July in Madrid, Spain.
The paper was also published in the International Journal of Business and Economic Perspectives, (Fall 2014, Volume 9 Number 1). Pologeorgis, who tries to publish between one and three research papers a year, said he looked at multiple factors including how the economy impacts different groups and how workers are impacted by the level of their hard and soft skills.
Hard skills are those that can be taught, defined, and measured. They include things like having a degree, the ability to write, and proficiency on particular computer software. Soft skills on the other hand, are less easily measured. Pologeorgis said they are social skills like getting along with others, the ability to work collaboratively and in groups, having good manners, and being able to communicate effectively. Pologeorgis said soft skills can be transferred from one job to another.
The study concludes that unemployment is both a social issue and an economic problem.
“One of the things that I found is social mobility is a major factor,” he said. “When there’s a downturn in the economic cycle and you lose your job, whether you can find a job quickly is a combination of how well your hard skills are updated as well as your soft skills, which also includes networking. So if you have a good network and you are physically mobile, you can also be socially mobile because social mobility has to do with improving and moving up in income and class.”
Pologeorgis brings the results of the study into the classroom by trying to convey to students the importance of learning not only the hard skills required to attain a degree, like taking specific courses, but also social skills.
“For example, choosing to text or send email during a lecture is part of a social skill,” he said. “You wouldn’t do that at work so why would you do it in class? So I’m trying to educate them in more ways than one, not only with the content of the course, but also with social skills and how those can be applied to anything else they do in life. It’s a lifelong learning process. Learning doesn’t stop and that learning applies to both soft skills and hard skills.”
Pologeorgis said the skills mentioned in the study benefit everyone, whether they’re students in his classroom or graduates in the workforce.
“Who stops evolving as far as learning social skills?” he asked. “Some people start out in life being shy and timid and as they evolve they become more outgoing, more social, they get along better with people, and they work as a group toward a common goal.”