BACKING SOFT SKILLS
At McDonald’s, soft skills are at the heart of what we do. We know that these skills can really affect a customer’s experience with us, and that they are critical to our employees’ performance, progression and motivation.
However we also know that as a nation we are not investing enough in skills such as communication, teamwork and time management, and now we have the stats to back this up:
- By 2020, over half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills – an issue forecast to affect all sectors.
- At the same time, soft skills contribute £88 billion to the UK economy today – with this contribution predicted to increase to £109 billion during the next five years.
- 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. However, three-quarters believe there is already a soft skills gap in the UK workforce.
- Meanwhile, UK employees say they struggle to sell their soft skills. One in five would not feel confident describing their soft skills to an employer and more than half (54%) have never included soft skills on their CV.
Source: Development Economics Ltd, January 2015 and YouGov Plc, September 2014.
We want to change this.
We’re spending 2015 championing the hard value of soft skills, together with leading organisations from the worlds of business and education, alongside entrepreneur James Caan CBE. We hope not only to change peoples’ perceptions of soft skills, but also to generate some brilliant new ideas about how to develop them in the workforce so that all employees can benefit from them throughout their careers and lives.
To download our research, click on the button below.
Our three month cross-industry consultation has now concluded, and we are delighted to publish our recommendations. We would like to thank everyone who emailed, tweeted or submitted a consultation response for their support. In total, 60 organisations expressed support for our campaign, and we received 40 consultation responses. In addition we hosted a roundtable event attended by youth groups, trade associations, businesses and employers.
Our report outlines four core recommendations:
- A robust, user-friendly soft skills framework, which both individuals and employers can apply to their own organisations and hiring processes
- Soft skills to be embedded into curricular and extra-curricular activities
- Links between business, education and the youth sector to be improved, to drive careers education for young people and soft skills development for all
- Government departments to join up more to make support for soft skills more consistent across policy decisions
To download our report, click on the button below.
To download the appendix and see example comments from our consultation respondents, click on the button below.
We know there is an enormous amount of work to do to get soft skills the recognition they deserve. This is why we have set up a working group, which will drive forward these recommendations and develop the framework for the development and evaluation of soft skills. We will publish all news and updates from our working group on this website – please do keep checking back for more information.
The challenge of improving our nation’s soft skills is one that cannot just be undertaken by businesses alone. That is why we urge all sectors, organisations and individuals to download our report and help implement its recommendations in their day-to-day life.
We cannot achieve this alone.
That’s why are working with a number of campaign partners to help spread the word, share their expertise, and shape the outcomes.
Peter Westgarth, Chief Executive of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said:
"The DofE has 60 years-worth of experience in the development of young people’s soft skills, providing a robust and proven model to learn from and build on. Young people achieving a DofE Award have shown the commitment and resilience to see a task through to the end, they’ve worked in teams and led their peers and kept a positive attitude throughout a roller coaster of personal and physical challenges.
Leading employers tell us how much they value the work-ready skills DofE Award holders have to offer and we believe so strongly in the tangible impacts of young people doing their DofE we’ve launched a website, the LifeZone, to help our participants and Award achievers to articulate the transferrable skills they’ve gained when applying for jobs. I am delighted to be part of the Backing Soft Skills Working Party and look forward to sharing our experience and shaping the outputs of the Backing Soft Skills campaign to ensure that even more young people are supported in the development and recognition of their soft skills."
Mary Hartshorne, Director of Outcomes and Information, I CAN:
"Good communication is core to successful employment, underpinning all other soft skills. Yet in some socially deprived parts of the UK, upwards of 50% of children and young people have poor speech, language and communication skills, potentially limiting their success at school and life chances.
As the leading communication charity in the UK, I CAN are thrilled to partner with the McDonald’s Backing Soft Skills Campaign. We are looking forward to sharing our skills and expertise with the other campaign partners to ensure that no one gets left out or left behind because of a difficulty communicating."
Mark Anderson, Managing Director, Pearson UK:
"Pearson welcomes the Backing Soft Skills campaign and is delighted to join as a partner. As a global employer we endorse the work of McDonalds UK and the campaign partners to ensure that status of the so-called soft skills and their importance to learners, employees and employers grows and is supported.
As a learning company, one of our key principles is to empower learners through the development of soft skills, as we deliver our commitment to improving outcomes for everyone in education. We look forward to working with the partners in the campaign to share our experiences and take this important work forward."
Mark Capper, Head of Employer Engagement, Mencap:
"With only 7% of people with a learning disability in paid work, Mencap focus on addressing the barriers that contribute to this unacceptably low statistic. The development of soft skills is vital in not only progressing to and sustaining paid employment but also helps people with a learning disability to learn transferrable skills to help them to become more confident in participating in their local community and beyond.
We are seeing more and more supported employment contracts focussed on hard outcomes, so it is refreshing to see McDonald's recognise the value of soft skills and we are delighted to support the initiative."
Jenny Merry – Head of Talent Consulting:
"The forecast that over half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills by 2020 is a worrying look into the future, and yet a reality that is already challenging many companies. At Aon, our talent consultants see this as a particular concern for the manager population. Managers are the back-bone of an organisation; they have a massive impact on engagement and performance of their teams. Yet, these are the individuals who are often placed into a managerial role without having had any development in the soft skills needed to deliver in the role, for example feedback and coaching, communication and managing diverse and virtual teams. This is affecting the degree to which teams can actually be successful in delivering against local and strategic objectives. Aon is delighted to be a campaign partner to the “Backing Soft Skills Campaign”. We are happy to be able to share client stories, as well as help build solutions to address these challenges."
Judith Nelson, Tesco UK Personnel Director:
"Tesco is delighted to be supporting McDonald’s Backing Soft Skills campaign. We believe soft skills have a vital role to play in any workplace, helping individuals to realise their potential, building great teams and helping us deliver great service for our customers. Our research with young people has found that soft skills are key to helping them get the most from their education and start successful careers. That’s why we’ve launched the Tesco Youth Academy, a free learning programme to help prepare young people for the world of work. Through the Youth Academy, we are sharing our training expertise with young people in schools and our wider community. We look forward to continuing to promote the development of soft skills through such initiatives."
Neil Burke, Youth Focus North East:
"Soft skills are crucial to young people to not only successfully enter employment but more importantly sustain employment. Youth Focus: North East believes that young people should be educated in soft skills and supported to learn how they can then apply these skills in the world of work. The UK's future productivity highly depends on young people being equipped with these soft skills and it is fantastic to see McDonalds and other private sector organisations recognising this and putting resources into supporting young people to develop these."
Mike Johnson MBE, Training Manager:
"As soon as I got to hear of the McDonalds UK campaign I had to get involved. Here at the Gelder Group we are experiencing year on year a lack of communication and soft skills from those young people applying for employment with us. We are so concerned about this that we have set up or own training programme in a bid to improve things, so to be selected to be part of the McDonalds campaign is brilliant. I know as apprenticeship ambassadors employing young people we have a lot of offer and the Gelder Group is very excited to be involved and share our experience."
Dereth Wood, Director of Learning, Strategy and Policy:
"We’re delighted to be supporting McDonald’s in their campaign to promote the value of soft skills. The research clearly shows how important things like communication, teamwork and time management are to the economy. Our own research also shows how highly employers value these skills, whilst jobseekers lack understanding of their importance.
At learndirect we’ve worked with more than 75,000 businesses, including McDonald’s, and have seen first-hand how vital these are to their success. For young people in particular – who may leave education lacking these skills - on-the-job training like Apprenticeships can play a crucial role in helping to build them."
Andy Ross, MCIPR, CIPR Public Relations and Policy Manager:
The soft skills used on a day-to-day basis by public relations professionals form the building blocks of modern business practice, and the CIPR is keen for their value to be fully recognized through sustained investment to help current and future talent not only get in to work, but also progress.
I would urge all of our members to back this campaign, and pledge to work with colleagues across their organisations, and across their local communities, to share their valuable expertise.”
Maggie Walker, ASDAN Chief Executive:
“Being personally effective in team-working, communication, self-management and tackling problems, builds the confidence to take responsibility and make the right decisions. We have seen the benefit of this in tens of thousands of young people over the last 35 years during which time ASDAN has led the way specialising in skills education, through a range of curriculum programmes and qualifications, which have provided a means of developing and recognising the achievement of soft skills. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg in our work, but are very much “backing soft skills”, and are delighted to see, and fully support, this McDonald’s campaign, and do what we can to help.”
David Hughes, Chief Executive:
"Soft skills do not get the attention or recognition that they deserve. We know through our work just how many adults improve these skills through taking part in all types of learning. All forms of learning, and not just those that lead to qualifications, help people build confidence, progress to other skills and are crucial to ensure they thrive in their lives and careers. Soft skills are also what every employer needs from their workforce to be successful.
One soft skill that we want to promote is the confidence to go on to further learning. This commitment and enthusiasm to continuously develop in their careers will help them adapt to the changing workplace and world.
The organisations that have come together Backing Soft Skills prove just how important this campaign is. We urge all our members and supporters from across the sector – and beyond – to take part in the consultation and share with us what works and what must improve."
Liz Watts, Research & Consultancy Director:
"In our work helping employers engage with and through education, soft skills are recognised as important by all parties. However, defining those soft skills and helping young people acquire them is often where things come unstuck. In recent research we have done with our teacher community, EdComs Teachers, teachers admit that they find soft skills difficult to teach and that they are not always sure which soft skills employers are looking for. EdComs are happy to support this campaign because we believe more needs to be done to help teachers understand the skills business is looking for and to get business supporting the teaching of soft skills."
Lizzie Crowley, Head of Youth Unemployment Programmes:
"'Soft skills' play a critical role in helping young people successfully move from education to the workplace. Yet too many leave our education system with limited, or no, work experience and under developed soft skills. Boosting these would play a key role in tackling the UK’s long-standing youth unemployment problem."
Richard Atkins, President:
"One of the fundamental building blocks of a sustainable economic recovery is to ensure that everyone has a well-rounded mix of employability skills which includes soft skills. Colleges are well-placed to equip people for the workplace with expert teachers, industry-standard facilities and a close on-going relationship with local employers of all sizes.
Through this campaign we hope more employers will come to recognise and invest in the soft skills of potential recruits as well as their existing workforce."
Neil Carberry, Director for Employment and Skills:
"Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people - such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity - is just as important as academic or technical skills. In an ever more competitive jobs market it is such qualities that will give our young talent a head start and also allow existing employees to progress to higher skilled, better paid roles."
Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive:
"Those of us who work with young people know that often what stops them achieving their potential and making successful transitions to adult life is not formal academic qualifications. Without the capacity to work with others, to communicate effectively and appropriately, to manage their emotions and channel their energy, to problem solve and perhaps most importantly to have resilience so when things go wrong they can learn from it and pick themselves up and carry on, young people struggle to secure work and be proactive members of their communities.
We are delighted to be supporting McDonald’s, one of the most powerful youth brands, in encouraging everyone be they business, government or civil society to play their part in equipping young people with the soft skills they need to succeed."
Katerina Rüdiger, Head of Skills and Policy Campaigns:
"Our members, HR professionals who oversee recruitment, regularly tell us that so called ‘soft skills’, such as communication, teamwork and resilience, are among the key attributes they look for when they recruit. If young people are to be able to transition successfully from education to the world of work they must be given the opportunity to develop and demonstrate these skills. We’re pleased to support the McDonald’s UK campaign to drive up awareness of this important topic."
Jenny North, Director of Policy:
"We know that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can particularly benefit from programmes which develop their ‘soft skills’ as part of getting them into sustained employment. Our report ‘Ready for Work?’ defined six essential capabilities that give young people the edge when trying to get a job, which overlap with those identified in this campaign. Helping young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, improve their employability, and progression within work will benefit the economy and society as a whole. We are delighted to be part of McDonald’s UK campaign."
Chris Jones, Chief Executive:
"Unfortunately, some people believe that soft skills aren’t that important. However, almost every employer I’ve ever talked to about this disagrees. In a world where job roles are changing rapidly, soft skills will be one of the few constants. That’s why this campaign from McDonald’s is so significant. If people are developing those crucial skills like communication and teamwork early on, they’ll have a much better chance of not only getting into work but progressing throughout their careers."