A recent study by education charity Central YMCA which surveyed senior managers at over 200 businesses, revealed that UK employers value more than just work-related skills in young people coming out of the education system and into the workplace.

According to the study, alongside valuing someone who is well-travelled and has experiences of other cultures, the top three non-work related qualities employers look for most when hiring young people are:

  • Learning new skills (57%)
  • Being well read (47%)
  • Having a strong interest in a hobby (43%)

Soft skills, sometimes known as emotional intelligence, is often overlooked in the pursuit of obtaining the practical skills needed for a certain job path.

Commenting on the study, Rosi Prescott, chief executive of Central YMCA, said:

“It has become evident that there is a soft skills gap which needs plugging – most employers are reporting that young people lack basic soft skills such as punctuality and appropriate mobile phone usage.

But, with employers recognising the enthusiastic can-do attitudes of the vast majority of the young people in the UK, we’re hopeful that this can be harnessed to bring their soft-skills up to scratch.

Prescott explained: “It could be argued that the findings of the survey have proven that it’s your CV that gets you the interview but it’s your personality, and life experience, that gets you the job.”

A Millennial Branding report revealed that 92% of employers value strong teamwork skills. This can be displayed through communicating and helping fellow colleagues.

It is not enough to simply show up to work and get your work done, and if you believe putting earphones in and getting on with it will make you look conscientious, it is simply not good for morale and will only serve to make you look like you are only concerned with number one.

Bring something to your team, and get involved with coaching co-workers when they need help or come into a project mid-way through.

The Millennial Branding survey also revealed that 43% of employers want to hire employees who are a good cultural fit within their business. This is often measured on how well a candidates values match up with their hiring managers.

If the employer enjoys a balance between work and fun, yet has strong opinions on over-usage of mobile phones in work, this kind of value set can be an important factor in the hiring process.

On top of these mentioned desirability’s, other soft skills that employers are seeking include:

  • Being flexible and focused
  • Being creative and innovative
  • Developing new work processes
  • Taking initiative
  • Solving problems
  • Being dependable
  • Voicing opinions while being open to feedback

Only one in ten respondents in the research believed that young people enter the workplace fully equipped with the necessary soft skills, and the YMCA charity now warns that the education system needs to put more focus on soft-skills and personal development, rather than prioritising technical skills.

It has been highlighted in the news recently that students should take time to find a job after university, and might need down time after their finals and take time to consider their options.

Graduates may have a better chance of learning valuable soft skills before pursuing their carer if they either travel, volunteer, or engage in temporary or non-graduate work before finding something permanent.

Written By
Sarah Tuson is a PR and Marketing Executive at Integra People, a national recruitment consultancy who provide quality contract, temporary, and permanent staffing solutions to clients from a wide network of offices nationwide. Sarah writes a regular blog on the company website about recruitment and employment, and sector and company news.

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