29th February 2016
In times gone by professional qualifications – so called 'hard skills' – seemed to be far and away the major factor for employers in choosing graduates and school leavers.
However, in this day and age – featuring both high competition for jobs, and rapidly changing necessary skillsets – employers are looking for more than just hard skills.
I’m of course referring to soft skills. Which skills are these exactly? There is no universally agreed list, but most employers would agree that they include:
- Problem Solving
- Time Management
Are students between 11-18 being given the opportunity to develop these skills? Are schools given enough resources to embed them in their curriculum?
Many post 16 students will be able to tell you the function of leaves on a plant, but won’t be able to clearly demonstrate a situation where they have displayed excellent communication skills or adapted in a changing situation.
The British Chambers of Commerce recently stated that employers have been left ‘disheartened and downright frustrated’ by poor levels of communication and timekeeping among school leavers and graduates. 
It is essential that schools embed soft skills into their curriculum, and also work with employers to give students the best chance of succeeding and building a prosperous career.
There is a moral imperative on schools to action these changes, but two changes imposed by the Government provide useful encouragement.
Firstly, more weight is being attached to apprenticeships and vocational courses so they are on par with academic courses - see our recent article on the 2020 Vison Paper on apprenticeships.
In addition, this year for the first time learner destinations have become one of the headline performance measures in school performance tables for 16-18 year olds; the performance tables include data on the proportion of young people who progress to an apprenticeship.