Dr Róisín Smith, Edward M. Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention, Maynooth University recently spoke at Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland.
‘Considering the dramatic increase in multidimensional crisis management and peacekeeping operations in recent years, peacekeepers need more specialised training, particularly in terms of soft skills training. Soft skills are of critical importance not only to the successful implementation of strategic aims and objectives of conflict prevention and peacebuilding missions but also in the harmonisation and establishment of both formal and informal relationships.
Key soft skills training needs were drawn from detailed analysis of literature pertaining to current training methods across an international paradigm, ameliorated by qualitative data from extensive interviews conducted by six regional partners as part of the Gaming for Peace (GAP) research project. Peacekeeping training, for one, is defined by the United Nations ‘as any activity which aims to enhance mandate implementation by equipping military, police or civilian personnel, both individually and collectively, with the knowledge, skills and attitude’ to enable them to perform their duties. However, given the multitude of courses currently offered on crisis management, training for peacekeeping missions is extremely varied. It often consists of generic training as well as pre-deployment, mission-specific and induction training, but there are significant gaps in the training of soft skills. The interview cohort conducted under GAP, included military, police and civilian peacekeepers with direct experience of peacekeeping missions in over 50 different nations worldwide. The significant soft skill training needs identified through the detailed mapping and analysis point to key soft skill needs in: Communicating and listening in peacekeeping; Cooperation; Leadership and decision-making; Gender and cultural awareness; Coordination and Stress management. The production of the GAP training game is therefore necessary and timely given the current environment of peacekeeping and the prerequisite for efficient, effective and valuable soft skills training of personnel.’ This presentation was delivered jointly with Dr Philip McCready, Ulster University.