Having strong soft skills is increasingly important to young people entering the job market and also to employers recruiting new talent.
With the soft skills being the key to young people’s success, we are excited to announce that Milkround School Leavers and Employability Town have joined forces to bring all professionals working and upskilling young people a free live webinar to explore the value of soft skills to enhance youth employment prospects.
Klaudia Mitura, Founder and Managing Director of Employability Town and also a work psychologist with an extensive experience of developing professional potential of young people interviewed two experts:
- Shanzeeda Chowdhury, Employment and Employer Engagement Specialist qualified in employability, skills and economic development with over 6 years experience in policy development and project management working on the employment and skills agenda for government (Cabinet Office and Local Government).
- Elizabeth Hunt, Senior Marketing Executive at Milkround, the UK’s leading school leaver, student and graduate recruitment website. Responsible for looking after Milkround’s B2B and Influncer marketing activities.
During the webinar, the hostess and the speakers discussed the following key questions
What are soft skills?
Among 500 businesses across the UK the most important factor employers weigh up when recruiting graduates is their attitude to work (89%).
Soft Skills are set of characteristics that:
- Do not depend on acquired knowledge
- Are not job specific
- Are connected with getting employment and sustaining it
- Relate to the ability to deal with people, interpersonal & social aspect
- A positive flexible mindset
- A creative approach towards problems
When recruiting young people, businesses look first and foremost for the right attitude and aptitude to enable young people to be effective in the workplace.
Why soft skills are so important to employers?
- Soft skills are worth over £88 billion in Gross Value Added to the UK economy every year – about 6.5% of the whole economy
- By 2020 the annual contribution of soft skills is expected to rise to £109 billion, and to just over £127 billion by 2025
- Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center has concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).
- A lack of strong soft skills can lead to poor productivity, competitiveness and profitability which are key to businesses.
Are soft skills taking the edge over formal qualifications?
The research suggests that Soft Skills taking the edge over formal qualifications:
- CBI’s education and skills survey in 2016 ‘The Right Combination’ interviewed 500 UK businesses and found the most important factor to 89% of the employers when recruiting young people is their attitude to work and 66% of employers thought their aptitude for work was important and well ahead of the need of formal qualifications.
- Businesses look first and foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace – nearly nine in ten employers (87%) rank these in their top considerations, far above factors such as the university attended (13%)
- Ernst & Young, one of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters, has announced it will be removing the degree classification from its entry criteria, saying there is “no evidence” success at university correlates with achievement in later life. The company would use online assessments to judge the potential and soft skills of applicants.
Employers understand that technical knowledge is increasingly important as workers progress in their careers but being good at communicating and able to work in a team are the key ingredients to getting the initial foot in the door and sustaining employment.
How employers assess soft skills when recruiting young talent?
Employers are implementing innovative assessment methods of soft skills:
- Behavioral interviews – A series of complex questions in relation to previous experience and achievements as the past behavior on the job tends to be a fairly accurate indicator of future success.
- Written tests – A series of tasks to complete on the spot such as write an e-mail to a colleague or compose a sample advert brief.
- Psychometric tests – Assessing candidate mindset and lateral thinking.
- Assessments Centers– Observing candidates how they operate and interact with each other in simulation of a real work environment via discussions, role plays, presentations, and in-tray exercises.
- Innovative Assessments – Inviting candidates for lunch and on purpose messing up their order to assess how they are going to react.
What is the best practice in developing and enhancing soft skills of young people?
This year Australia have introduced soft skills into their school curriculum under the heading of ‘Capabilities’ which include attributes such as collaboration, perseverance, problem solving, empathy and self reflection.
Employability Town expertise is based on our great success of delivering over 185 thematic and bespoke soft skills workshops across the UK and boosting the soft skills of over 4,761 young people and 935 professionals.
From our experience, to develop soft skills of young people, youth and educational organisations could focus on implementing Soft Skills Mindset within their organizations which is structured around the following:
- Soft Skills Awareness – Direct engagement with employers
- Soft Skills Training – Possibility to understand and build soft skills via interactive workshops
- Project Based Learning – Enterprise and Community Projects
- Staff Training – Providing tools and resources on shaping soft skills of young people.
For instance, Employability Town released a set of resources designed specifically for organisations to deliver effective in-house soft skills training. More information here.
How work experience can make the first steps into the world of work a lot easier?
49% of students feel that classroom lessons prepared them poorly for the future work. Young People also don’t know how to relate the experience they had so far to evidence the soft skills
- Becoming a Student rep – Networking with others to get elected and therefore demonstrating excellent communication skills as well as approachable nature.
- Joining a sports team – Playing for a sports team displays more than just the level of fitness. Teamwork and dedications are also valued in all job roles along with healthy taste for competition.
- Volunteering and WEX– Both shows being al all-round good citizen and willingness to commit time to something other than personal gain. Additionally, gaining some priceless experience of being part of a larger organization.
- Peer Mentoring – A fantastic way to exercise emotional intelligence. Supporting younger students with an issue may impress employers due ability to emphasize with others and problem solving skills.