Our Results for Life report, supported by HSBC, reveals that soft skills such as teamwork, communication and confidence are considered by young people, teachers and employees to be as important to achieving success in life as good grades.
43% of young people don’t feel prepared to enter the work force, with many worried that they lack confidence and soft skills
72% of employees don’t think they had all the soft skills they needed to do well when they first entered the workplace
- 91% of teachers think schools should be doing more to help students develop soft skills
The national survey shows that while young people, teachers and people in the workforce agree on the importance of soft skills, there are concerns across the board about whether young people get enough support to develop them.
Why soft skills are important
While young people consider maths and literacy to be the most important things to learn at school, soft skills (including confidence and communication) are next in line – ahead of subjects like IT and languages. When asked why they think these skills are so important, 62% of young people said that having them will help them to get a job.
Worryingly, 43% of young people don’t feel prepared to enter the workforce, with 43% of those who feel this way believing their soft skills are not good enough and 46% saying their confidence is too low. More than half (52%) of young people also feel their school does not fully support them to develop in these areas.
Are young people fully equipped?
When comparing these findings with the views of employees and teachers, it appears the concerns young people raise are not unfounded. More than a quarter of teachers (27%) think that most of the students they teach don’t yet have all the soft skills required to do well after school, and 91% think schools should be doing more to help students to develop these skills.
Similarly, the top five things workers think young people most lack typically when entering the workforce are soft skills including confidence, communication and reliability, above things like maths and literacy. 72% of employees felt they themselves didn’t have all the soft skills to do well when they first started working, while 64% felt a lack of skills meant they struggled to find a job when they were starting out.
Dame Martina Milburn DCVO CBE, chief executive at The Prince’s Trust, says:
“Students, teachers and people who are in work agree that more needs to be done to ensure young people leave education with the confidence and skills they need to reach their full potential in the workplace. By working together to support them to achieve this, we can ensure the next generation of employees hit the ground running and make a formidable addition to the UK workforce.”
Antonio Simoes, Chief Executive Officer at HSBC bank PLC, says:
Dr Simon Gibbons, Director of Teacher Education at King's College London says: "This is a significant report that highlights concerns around the development of soft skills in pupils and new entrants to the world of work. It’s likely that the focus on outcomes from terminal examinations has pushed the development of soft skills to the margins of many pupils’ educational experience. The report calls for schools to do more to develop young people’s confidence and communication skills; the findings suggest the vast majority of teachers would support such moves.”