McDonald's leads campaign to highlight the economic value of soft-skills

Research estimates that soft skills contribute £88bn to the economy

Maggie Pagano
Wednesday 14 January 2015 12:05 GMT
Businesses are said to be underestimating soft skills, such as being on time, working well with people and working in teams
Businesses are said to be underestimating soft skills, such as being on time, working well with people and working in teams (Rex )

McDonald's UK is today launching a new campaign to boost the value of soft-skills to the economy and demonstrate how such skills are as important for workers' and employers as academic and technical qualifications.

Headed by businessman James Caan, the campaign aims to highlight how interpersonal skills such as teamwork, resililence, respect and creativity are valued as much as the more formal skills and need to better valued and understood by employers.

Mr Caan said: "I didn’t have any qualifications when I started working but I soon realized that the so-called softer skills of being on time, working well with people, working in teams are of great value in the workplace. Most businesses underestimate these skills and we need to find ways to value them better.

"Most people struggle to sell their soft skills. I see this in my businesses all the time. We need to look at changing the way that employees do their CVs - and the way employers look at CVs - so that workers can demonstrate their soft skills whether its by giving examples of team work or how they are good at communicating."

Research carried out for McDonald’s, which employs 100,000 people in the UK, estimates that soft skills contribute £88 billion to the economy and that this is forecast to rise to £109 billion over the next five years. The research report, carried out by Development Economics, also warns that employers, government and educators are not currently supporting soft skills sufficiently to realise their potential contribution. According to the research, over half a million UK workers working mainly in food services, retail, healthcare and leisure industries will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills by 2020.

Mr Caan, who runs several recruitment agencies as well as the government’s Start-Up loans business, will now be leading a three-month consultation investigating current practices and attitudes to soft skills and will work with policy experts, employers and trade associations to come up with recommendations of how such skills can be improved. The campaign is also backed by the CBI, the National Youth Agency, LearnDirect and Barclays.

He added that while nearly all employers believe soft skills are important to their current business success - and more than half rate them more highly than academic qualifications - three-quarters believe there is already a soft skills gap in the UK workforce.

Jez Langhorn, the chief people officer, McDonald’s UK & Northern Europe, added: "Soft skills like communication and teamwork are incredibly important to our business because of the impact they can have on our customers' experience.

"As integral as they are to the performance and progression of our employees, I know that we can do more to recognise their importance which is why we are launching this campaign to find ways in which we can better recognise soft skills and I’m calling on others to join us in re-evaluating and improving these skills."

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