A recent survey by The Hay Group showed that graduates overlook the importance of soft skills; including self-awareness, self-management, empathy, listening, teamwork and understanding others’ concerns. However, according to the vast majority of employers surveyed, soft skills are vital to commercial success.
When questioned about soft skills, the majority of graduates said they believed they just needed to be good at their job to succeed and they viewed time spent developing soft skills as a barrier to getting work done.
According to Melody Moore, Consultant at Hay Group, “At university, recent graduates will have been focused on, and rewarded for, their academic expertise and knowledge, not necessarily developing people skills. If they haven’t had the chance to gain work experience, they may not yet understand this aspect of work culture.”
Similar findings were reported in a survey by GradIreland, where over 40% of employers noted a deficit in both verbal and written communication skills, with a shortfall also seen in other areas such as problem solving, confidence, motivation, independent working, flexibility, diligence and teamwork.
In the CIPD 2013 Resourcing and Talent Planning Report, just 13 per cent of respondents said educational institutions provided younger workers with the skills their organisation needed to a great or very great extent and 5 per cent said schools, colleges and universities failed to deliver these skills at all.
The Hay Group study also revealed that an overwhelming majority of those working in recruitment and development said graduates who neglected to develop good people skills would be ineffective as leaders. Furthermore, based on the people skills of the graduates they had recruited, they were concerned about their organisation’s future leadership.
Annie Peate, policy campaigns officer at the CIPD, said: “Young people need to make sure that they’re developing the soft skills they have and that they grasp every opportunity to do so.”