Education & Family

Employers prefer 'soft' skills in graduates, study says


Employers prefer "soft" skills rather than technical knowledge in graduates they are recruiting, a study suggests.

A survey of 198 employers in the UK indicated, for graduates, being good at communicating, a team player, confident and analytical were all more important than having technical knowledge.

But this changed after two years in the job, when firms said knowledge was increasingly important.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) supported the findings.

'Train for skill'

"Technical knowledge" was ranked 24th out of 30 competencies desired by employers at the recruitment stage, in the research, carried out by education provider Kaplan.

But after two years of employment, the importance of technical knowledge rose to second place.

Stuart Pedley-Smith, head of learning in the UK at Kaplan, said: "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."

He said employers saw a university degree as proof that graduates had reached a certain level of competence.

Mr Pedley Smith added: "There is a well-known saying within recruitment - 'Recruit for attitude and train for skill.'"

'Determination and ability'

Employers were happy to provide training for the more technical areas, he said.

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

Mr Wall said the CBI had found 89% of British firms had regarded attitudes to work and character as the most important factor when recruiting graduates.

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