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UK 'needs robust framework for soft skills'

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The UK needs a robust framework to better recognise and promote soft skills, according to a report commissioned by McDonald’s UK.

The call for action follows a three month cross industry consultation, which took input from organisations including the CBI, the National Youth Agency, Pearson and National Grid, and was backed by entrepreneur James Caan.

This publication is part of an ongoing campaign by McDonald’s UK to measure the impact of soft skills on businesses, and stress their importance to the government and employers. The report found that many young people do not understand what they need to be work-ready, or how to progress their careers.

There are four key recommendations in the report:

  • Create a robust, user-friendly soft skills framework
  • Embed soft skills into the curriculum
  • Improve links between business, education and the youth sector to drive careers education for young people and soft skills development for all
  • Encourage government departments to join up more

The release cites research from Development Economics which shows that skills such as communication, teamwork and time management can boost lifetime earnings by up to 15%, and contribute an estimated £88 billion to the UK economy.

Chief operating officer for McDonald’s UK & Northern Europe Richard Forte told HR magazine he wants soft skills to be valued more highly: “We would like a robust but user-friendly framework for businesses to quantify soft skills. We want to see soft skills given more attention in schools, and for businesses to understand their value.

“Working on these skills can be as simple as taking part in team sports or volunteering,” he added. “But at the moment, one in five candidates are not confident in explaining their soft skills to potential employers.”

Caan said that soft skills “are making and breaking” businesses. “Everyone, from chief executives to young people in their first job, need these skills to realise their potential and help make their business productive and high-performing."

He added: “If we succeed, the prize is worth more than £109 billion to the UK economy by 2020, and it will make a real difference to the careers and lives of millions of people.”

Forte added that soft skills are vital to McDonald's UK's success. “The impact they have on the experience of our three million daily customers can’t be underestimated.

“The recommendations coming out of the consultation show just how serious we are about tackling this issue, and getting soft skills the recognition they so rightly deserve.”