Soft skills: the most important factor in the recruitment process

Another study has labelled soft skills as more desirable for employers than technical understanding.

The research was orchestrated by education authority Kaplan and collected insights from 198 employers in the UK. According to the findings, soft skills such as communication, teamwork, confidence and analytical ability outweighed technical know-how. On a 30 point scale, “technical knowledge” was ranked 24th most important in the recruitment phase; employers explained that technical ability only becomes important after two years in a job – at this point it is ranked as 2nd most important.

Author of the study and head of learning in the UK at Kaplan, Stuart Pedley-Smith, summarised: “On the whole, we found that the employers we surveyed do not recruit graduates for the subject-specific nature of what they learned at university. These employers generally view a university degree as a proxy for having reached a certain level of competence.”

“There is a well-known saying within recruitment – ‘recruit for attitude and train for skill.”

Head of education and employment policy at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Rob Wall, said: “The UK is facing a growing skills gap, so we must have an education system that better prepares young people for the world of work. That means not only do they need higher skills, but the character, determination and ability to communicate effectively and help forge successful careers.”

He went on to say that the CBI found that 89% of British employers consider work attitude and character as the most significant element in the recruitment process.  

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