Prince's Trust report urges us to focus on soft skills

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

The importance of so-called “soft skills” such as team-work, communication and confidence has been underlined by young people, workers and teachers.

Research published by The Prince’s Trust and HSBC suggests that many young people feel unprepared to enter the workplace and want more support to develop these key skills and abilities.

The survey involved 2,224 11 to 19-year-olds currently in the education system, as well as 2,675 workers (including 1,308 aged 16 to 25), and 1,000 teachers.

It found that 43 per cent of the young people do not feel prepared to enter the workforce, with almost half of these citing a lack of soft skills.

A quarter of teachers were also worried about their students’ soft skills, while 72 per cent of the workers said they didn’t have the soft skills required when they first started working.

Furthermore, 45 per cent of the teachers see a lack of soft skills as one of the most likely factors to hold students back in life and 91 per cent think schools should play a bigger role in developing these skills.

The workers blamed both their schooling (67 per cent) and their employers (43 per cent) for not doing enough to develop soft skills. Examples cited in the report include giving presentations, discussing conflicting points of view, and managing teams. The most common “soft skills” cited were confidence, communication, and an ability to protect mental health.

In the report, Dame Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, writes: “It is vital that we support young people to develop non-academic skills, such as communication, team-working and time-management, which of course are also highly prized by employers.

“Our research shows that many young people don’t feel ready to enter the workforce, with this disconnect largely attributed to a lack of self-confidence and apprehension that their soft skills are simply not up to scratch.

“If we fail to address these concerns, which are also echoed by teachers and workers across the UK, the potential consequences could deal a significant blow to our future workforce and in turn threaten the nation’s productivity. It is vital that we ensure the next generation of workers can rise to the challenges of these uncertain times.”


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