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ERIC Number: EJ899935
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0955-2308
Not-so-Soft Skills
Curran, Mary
Adults Learning, v21 n5 p30-31 Jan 2010
Much recent discussion about the skills needed to secure Britain's economic recovery has focused on skills for employability. However, too often, these fundamental skills are understood in narrow functional or vocational terms. So-called "soft skills", what Penelope Tobin, in her 2008 paper "Soft Skills: the hard facts", terms "traits and abilities of attitude and behaviour, rather than of knowledge or technical aptitude", are too often neglected. Yet, time and again, employers identify "soft" skills such as communication and team-working as attributes vital to the success of their businesses. There has been much discussion in post-16 education and training of what is meant by soft skills, their value, and how they are measured. Depending on the context--from management training to employability--different sets of soft skills are identified. They range from emotional intelligence and problem-solving, to readiness to work, motivation and behaviour, with communication skills mentioned at all levels. Key to soft skills is confidence in oneself and in learning, enabling people to become motivated and effective learners who will continue to learn in different areas of their lives. There is substantial evidence that employers value soft skills, not least in the Leitch report. Soft skills can be developed in any learning context, including non-vocational and accredited learning. However, a narrow focus on vocational and functional skills risks reducing the range of opportunities within which to develop soft skills, and undervalues the contribution which non-vocational learning can make to employability and work performance. At a time of economic recession and pressure on public expenditure, the author contends that the adult and community learning sector needs to enhance evidence of the contribution it makes to the economy as well as to the personal development of its learners.
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A