Why young people struggle with soft skills and how employers can help

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In today's workplaces, hard and soft skills are paramount. While technical proficiency remains critical, the role of soft skills—such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability—has never been more crucial. But are young people entering the workforce adequately equipped with these skills?

Recent data suggests a worrying trend. According to a study discussed in an article by Activ People HR, nearly 45 per cent of businesses offering tech roles reported that candidates applying for entry-level positions lack core technical skills. More alarmingly, more than a quarter (26 per cent) think these young candidates also lack essential soft skills. This skills gap is not confined to the tech world; it is a universal issue affecting many industries.

Why the gap?

Several factors contribute to this dilemma. First, the educational system often focuses on hard skills and academic achievements, neglecting soft skills development. This is a significant shortfall given that soft skills are increasingly becoming the cornerstone of effective teamwork and communication in the workplace.

Generational differences also come into play. Young people may have grown up in an environment where digital communication, such as text, is the norm. However, this doesn't necessarily translate into effective face-to-face communication or team collaboration and can be challenging when dealing with more mature colleagues.

The cost of ignoring soft skills

The repercussions of ignoring soft skills are far-reaching. Employers find filling roles with adequately skilled candidates challenging, leading to prolonged job searches and increased training costs. For young professionals, especially those belonging to Gen Z, 54 per cent take between 4 to 9 months to secure their first role, which can be disheartening and lead to a vicious cycle of underemployment.

Nurturing soft skills

The importance of soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, and adaptability in the workplace cannot be overstated. Employers bear a significant responsibility to ensure their workforce is competent in these areas, as they not only elevate individual capabilities but also foster a more harmonious and collaborative environment.

Expert-led workshops and online courses offer versatile pathways for employees to develop these skills, complemented by mentorship programmes for personalised development. Rather than a one-time initiative, cultivating soft skills should be a continuous endeavour underpinned by regular evaluations and constructive feedback. This sustained investment is less a luxury and more necessary for businesses aiming for long-term success and employee wellbeing.

Soft skills development with Mente

The challenge of enhancing soft skills transcends the workplace, requiring collaborative efforts between employers and educational entities. This is where solutions like Mente become invaluable. Beyond its focus on mental health and wellbeing, Mente boasts an extensive catalogue of courses and resources aimed squarely at soft skills development.

Whether it's mastering the art of effective communication, active listening skills, or developing emotional intelligence, Mente provides bite-sized learning modules that capture employees' interest at an introductory level. These brief yet impactful training segments are especially valuable for organisations looking to diversify their talent, offering a universally accessible route for improving these essential skills, regardless of background.

The way forward

The skills gap is not a problem that will solve itself. It requires active intervention from all stakeholders involved. While hiring from top universities may bring in candidates with strong hard skills, it may not necessarily solve the soft skills gap and could even exacerbate diversity issues.

By taking a proactive approach to address these issues, employers can fill their immediate staffing needs and build a diverse, skilled, and equipped workforce to meet the challenges of the modern workplace.

For further details on our services or to explore partnership opportunities, get in touch with us at [email protected]

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