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Major campaign aims to highlight value of soft skills

Fast food giant McDonald’s UK has launched a major campaign calling for a complete re-evaluation of the value of soft skills to the economy.

The restaurant chain, which is one of the UK’s largest employers of young people with more than 70,000 employees aged 16-25, wants to explore new ways to recognise and improve skills such as communication and teamwork.

Research commissioned by the fast-food giant shows such skills are worth more than £88 billion to the UK economy every year. It also estimates that by 2020, some half a million workers will be held back by a lack of soft skills.

The campaign, which is backed by a number of FE sector bodies including the Association of Colleges (AoC), City & Guilds and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), will invite businesses, policy experts, campaign groups, trade associations and academics to come up with new ways to recognise and improve soft skills in the workplace.

A three-month consultation opens today, with the findings and a series of long-term recommendations due to be published later this year.

Jez Langhorn, chief people officer, McDonald’s UK & Northern Europe, said: “Soft skills like communication and teamwork are incredibly important to our business ... I know that we can do more to recognise their importance which is why we are launching this campaign.”

David Hughes, chief executive of Niace, said soft skills do not get the attention or recognition they deserve. “We know through our work just how many adults improve these skills through taking part in all types of learning,” he said.

“All forms of learning, and not just those that lead to qualifications, help people build confidence, progress to other skills and are crucial to ensure they thrive in their lives and careers. Soft skills are also what every employer needs from their workforce to be successful.”

Richard Atkins, president of the AoC, said the economic recovery hinged on people having a mix of employability skills. “Colleges are well-placed to equip people for the workplace with expert teachers, industry-standard facilities and a close on-going relationship with local employers of all sizes,” he said.

Related stories:

Employers must take the lead in skills development, report says – November 2014


UK skills system 'out of step' with economic needs, report warns – November 2014

Young people lack skills needed for world of work, says British Chambers of Commerce – October 2014

Skills policies failing to meet workplace needs, report finds – September 2014

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