The value of soft skills

SSTWe’re talking about communication skills, team working, initiative….the list goes on and on. It’s all those skills you can’t get a 2:1 at University for or an A star at A Level. For employers it is these soft skills that often “oil the wheels” of the organisation and make the difference between success and failure. When ISL Recruitment work with a client we often find the soft skills are given the same priority as experience and education.

An article from Annie Peate, Policy and Campaigns Officer CIPD, talks about new research carried out for McDonalds UK. This soft skills research has at long last put a monetary figure on the worth of soft skills to the UK economy at £88 billion and is predicted to increase to £109 billion in the next 5 years. As a result of this research, McDonalds UK is planning to head up a new campaign to boost awareness of the value of soft skills to UK employers and the rising trend of employers recognising skills as being as important as academic and technical qualifications. This campaign is being supported by various organisations, including the CIPD and Barclays.

A survey from the CIPD as part of the Learning to Work programme showed evidence of a shift in employer perceptions. 23% of employers decided not to recruit due to their lack of technical or specialist skill and 75% said it was a candidate’s lack of soft skills which ultimately held them back. Interestingly, the research for McDonalds UK showed how a lack of soft skills isn’t just an issue at interview stage. The research estimated that over half a million UK workers will be “significantly held back” in their job opportunities through a lack of soft skills.

Organisations can help boost soft skills of current and future employees. The CIPD case study, Volunteering to Learn, showed employee volunteering, particularly with young people, can improve their softer skills and help to develop similar skills in young people. 1 to 1 mentoring, skills workshops and taking part in community youth projects worked the best, providing more engaged employees and young people with new information and tools to bring to work.

At ISL Recruitment, we recognise the varying importance of soft skills according to the role. We often find soft skills develop in parallel with work experience.