Employers prize graduates' soft skills over technical knowledge

Posted by Tom Walker in

According to a Kaplan survey of 198 employers in the UK, strong 'soft' skills are more highly prized than technical knowledge when it comes to graduate recruitment.

The results, supported by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), noted that UK based employers typically value skills such as strong communication, the ability to work in a team, confidence and analytical abilities above subject-specific knowledge garnered throughout their university studies. 'Technical knowlege' as a candidate attribute was ranked 24th out of 30 desirable competencies by employers at the recruitment stage.

However, the importance of soft skills relative to technical knowledge decreased as candidates progressed through their careers, with businesses increasingly focusing on technical ability as soon as 2 years following candidate graduation.

Rob Wall, head of education and employment policy at CBI, noted that "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."

This follows comments by David Willetts, the former Minister for Minister for Universities and Science, on student loans earlier this week in which he encouraged a debate on university ownership of student loans to incentivise higher education institutions to improve the employability of their graduates.

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