Soft skills are worth £88 billion a year to our economy – and are often ignored

Soft skills are worth £88 billion a year to our economy, so claimed Entrepreneur James Caan, famous from Dragon’s Den on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme this morning.

The skills they are talking about are:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork
  • Time and self-management
  • Decision-making and initiative-taking
  • Taking responsibility

These things are, of course, key skills for volunteers too. This campaign is all about improving the UK workforce’s soft skills, but I think we can both learn things from this approach, and perhaps contribute to it. I believe we need more people with good soft skills, and more people to see the value of developing them for themselves. What do you think?

James Caan is part of a campaign launched today that aims to make employers more aware of their value and employees more aware of how important it is to prove you have them.

Their research suggests that:

  • By 2020, over half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills – an issue forecast to affect all sectors.
  • At the same time, soft skills contribute £88 billion to the UK economy today – with this contribution predicted to increase to £109 billion during the next five years.
  • 97% of UK employers believe soft skills are important to their current business success, and over half say skills like communication and teamwork are more important than traditional academic results. However, three-quarters believe there is already a soft skills gap in the UK workforce.
  • Meanwhile, UK employees say they struggle to sell their soft skills. One in five would not feel confident describing their soft skills to an employer and more than half (54%) have never included soft skills on their CV.

(Source: Development Economics Ltd, January 2015 and YouGov Plc, September 2014)

The full report can be downloaded for free from the web site – www.backingsoftskills.co.uk – where you can also offer suggestions about improving their use.

When James Caan was asked whether he would rather employ someone with a 1st Class Degree or things like good communication skills and the ability to understand inspire people he said – the latter! It was what led to his own achievements. I can see the sense in that.

If you want to hear the interview (for the next 29 days) you can do so at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04xp63v

It starts at 23 mins 30 secs into the programme.

 The consultation finishes on 15th April. I look forward to reading the results.

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