"Backing Soft Skills" campaign launched
Posted by Lucy Kerrigan
16 Jan 2015
This week it was great to read about the launch of “Backing Soft Skills”, a new campaign to highlight the importance of soft skills such as communication, team work and time management to business success. Led by McDonalds, the campaign is supported by employers such as Barclays and organisations like the CBI.
Research commissioned to accompany the campaign launch found that soft skills contribute £88 billion to the UK economy through increased productivity and reduced operating costs and that:
“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.”
Employers are consistently highlighting a skills gap in the UK workforce so it is clear that there is more to be done to ensure all young people develop these vital skills.
With the support of BT we recently piloted a version of our employability and communication project Words for Work (usually offered to secondary schools) with a group of school leaver’s seeking their first employment opportunity. They certainly backed up the research finding that UK employees struggle to sell their soft skills.
The young people I worked with often underestimated or couldn’t identify the skills they had and they certainly weren’t ensuring that these came across loud and clear on their CV’s and applications. Over the course of the pilot with the support of volunteers from BT we helped the participants learn to identify and write about their existing skills and think about skills they needed to gain or improve. Crucially, by working with BT employees they were challenged to put these skills into practice whilst gaining a valuable insight into the workplace and what goes into finding a job.
“I enjoyed working in a team as I learnt more skills and I feel more confident to work in a team. My communication skills have definitely improved.” Participant, BT Pilot project
Highlighting the importance of soft skills is central to Words for Work which aims to equip students with improved communication and employability skills and to increase their confidence in their abilities.
The “Backing Soft Skills” campaign is launching a three-month consultation on how the development of soft skills can be supported and to find out how employees can better show off their soft skills. I look forward to seeing what ideas come out of the consultation and support any moves to increase the profile of soft skills which are essential to securing fulfilling employment.
Find out more about Words for Work at: www.literacytrust.org.uk/Words_for_Work
Find out more about the campaign and add your ideas to the consultation at: www.backingsoftskills.co.uk
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