Soft skills are hard to find

Studies have shown that “soft skills,” or the non-academic attributes a person brings to the workplace, are an important complement to technical and academic career preparation, and just as important in predicting income, employment status, and other career-related factors. There is a worldwide soft-skills gap that employers note prevents otherwise qualified candidates from being hired, although there is no consensus as to which skills are the most important.

Child Trends has released a review of more than 380 resources, including empirical studies and the results of international projects, describing a set of soft skills that emerged as the most critical for the future workplace success of young people aged 15-29. Of the 380 studies reviewed, 172 met the inclusion criteria of being published in the last 20 years, being non-sector specific, and relating a soft skill to one of four workforce outcomes: employment, performance/promotion, income, and entrepreneurial success.

The soft skills deemed as most critical from the review of research were:

  • Social skills
  • Communication skills
  • Higher-order thinking, such as solving problems, making decisions, and thinking critically
  • Self-control
  • Positive self-concept

The authors discuss the implications of these findings with regard to workforce-development and skill-training programmes for young people.

Source: Workforce Connections: Key “Soft Skills” That Foster Youth Workforce Success (2015), Child Trends.