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Further reading on "Soft skills"

UNESCO-UNEVOC has compiled a short selection of academic or professional articles that might help to clarify the signification and the use of the term "soft skills". It goes thus beyond the definitions stored in TVETipedia while not pretending to offer an exhaustive bibliography on the topic.

Do you know about relevant resources that could be added to the list ? Please contact us or share it on our e-Forum!

Transferability of Skills across Economic Sectors and Annexes By the EU commission (2011)

In this European study, soft/hard skills are combined with generic/specific skills to better explain the concept of "transferability".

In the selected quotes, the authors explain the use of soft skills/hard skills in the literature (compared to general/specific skills), before building their own taxonomy of skills.

Acquiring soft skills at university By M. Arat (2014), Soft skills: Education beyond Academics By Dr.P.K Padhi (2014), Are Soft skills Important in the Workplace? By N. Seetha (2014), Qualifications or soft skills ? By L. Kurekova, M. Beblavy, C. Haita (2012)

According to the previous reference, “soft skills” is a term mainly used in the business sector. The 4 references above have different authors from different fields (academic, government business…) and from different countries (Turkey, India, Malaysia, Slovakia) but all consider “soft skills” from an employer perspective. If each reference has its own objectives and tones, all raise a similar question in the background: What do employers want ?

The selected quotes try to grasp each reference’s point of view on the following bullets

  • What are “soft skills”?
  • What are their importance for employers ?
  • Where should soft skills be learnt ?

Transitions and Portability of Skills: Soft Skills and Task Specific Skills By Professor Ed Carson and Dr Lorraine Kerr (2005)

The 4 previous references agreed on one point: the importance of "soft-skills" in the mind of employers. The following article acknowledges this trend but also wonders about the consequences for job-seekers in the Australian context( The questioning moves from “What the employers want” to “What the employers do”).

In the selected quotes, the author sums up the result of a survey on approx. 100 Australian managers, and notice a difference between their words and their deeds.

Teaching and Assessing Soft Skills By K.Kechagias - MAAS project (2011) and NESSIE: Project impactBy Lifelong Learning Programme (2014)

The first resource is a report raising the question of teaching and assessing soft skills. It has been produced by the Measuring and Assessing Soft Skills programme (partly funded by the European Union) and is aimed at eachers, trainers, tutors and employers. It offers a methodological framework on soft skills that was used as basis for the NESSIE training programme. The second resource is the evaluation report of the lattest. The NESSIE programme (also funded by the EU) aimed at "transfering a soft skill development product from an education context, into a workplace context" and reached 609 users in seven countries.

The selected quotes come from the MAAS report and are divided in two sets: The first one on teaching, the second on assessing. Both aspects are however bounded by a same key-question: How much the context should weight on the definition of soft skills.

Plugging a gap? Soft skills courses and learning for work By Elisabet Weedon and Lyn Tett (2013)

This last reference also tackles the question of teaching soft skills, but switches the focus from the employer/teacher to the employee/student. The authors assess a European-funded short course aimed at “developing soft skills in low-skilled employees through a course developed by a Scottish college”. They do so mostly through interviews with ‘learners’ from two different fields: third sector care workers and construction workers.

In the selected quotes, the authors stress that the success of a soft skill learning depends mostly on external factors, such as the employer’s attitude and the workplace environment.

See also :

This article is an element of the TVETipedia Glossary.



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