News Article

What are 'Soft' skills?

What are soft skills and why are they vital for the 21st Century workplace?


Soft skills. You have probably heard the term before, but what are they?

The term can be misleading. By describing a skill as ‘soft’, it automatically implies that it is less important or inferior to ‘hard’ skills, otherwise known as ‘technical skills’.

Hard skills are those that are specific to a certain job or career path, for example, those that are taught within your University course; a law degree teaching you about UK and international law or a Nursing degree teaching you how to perform CPR. Of course, these ‘hard’ skills are vital to a particular sector, but your ‘soft’ skills are those that can apply to every job and every sector and are often those that will boost your career development more quickly.


"Hard skills contribute only 15% to one’s success, whereas 85% of success is due to soft skills"


Soft skills are your interpersonal qualities that determines your ability to communicate and work with others, resolve problems or organise your time. They are personality-specific skills that determine your strength as a leader, facilitator, mediator or negotiator and leads to people with enhanced job performance and career prospects.

Employer’s rate soft skills as number one in importance for entry level success on the job and they consider soft skills a very important attribute in a job applicant. Hiring applicants who have interpersonal skills is instrumental for successful organisations to maintain a competitive advantage.


"75% of long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25% is dependent on technical knowledge"


21st Century Skills

The 21st century workplace is rapidly changing. In the World Economic Forum report, The Future of Jobs, it is said that the world is on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution that will be characterised by technological innovation.

As we see a shift from an industrial economy to a more information and office based economy, firms have had to embrace technology to remain competitive and profitable. As a result, jobs are ever changing and therefore, the skills employers are seeking are becoming less technical and more interpersonal. Using a popular estimate, it suggests that 65% of children entering primary education today will ultimately land in jobs that as yet, do not exist.


How to develop your Soft Skills

Soft skills are vital to boost your career prospects and will help you in every aspect of your life. As graduate jobs are evolving and the graduate job market becomes more competitive, employers are seeking graduates with more developed soft skills and increased experience that will make applicants stand out from the rest.

By volunteering, you not only learn and develop invaluable soft skills, you also gain experience of the real working world, understand the culture of a particular work sector and it enables you to network and make professional contacts.

And if this isn’t enough, the time you dedicate to developing yourself will also be helping others and your local community.


Are you inspired to develop yourself and start volunteering?

The Volunteer Centre can help you in your journey to make you more employable and recruitable, whilst making a difference and having fun.


Start by finding a volunteer role today.


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