Building soft skills 'essential to business success'

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Soft skills lie be at the heart of an effective workforce

Anyone who runs a team knows the importance of people getting along and individuals complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses.

As a result, businesses across the country should take heed of new research published by restaurant giant McDonald's that has demonstrated the considerable financial advantages of a focus on developing so-called 'soft skills' within a workforce.

Communication, effective time-keeping and being a team player are among those unsung attributes that many businesses say they want in their staff but, for many, these qualities do not inform their general recruitment or promotion practices.

These firms could therefore be missing a trick, as the McDonald's research has predicted the value of soft skills to the UK economy is expected to rise to £109 billion by the end of the decade.

In addition, it predicts that up to half a million people could be held back from progressing in their career in the coming years as a result of a lack of these important professional skills.

Teamwork and collaboration are at the heart of any successful business, as individuals need to pull together to achieve their common goals. It is therefore essential for companies of all sizes to now focus their efforts on recruiting and training with these attributes in mind.

As such, a new campaign has been launched by the restaurant chain and is being backed by such organisations as the CBI, Barclays and learndirect. It aims to promote greater awareness of the importance of soft skills for all companies and is now inviting business leaders, policy experts, campaign groups, trade associations and academics to share their views on how these qualities can be better instilled in the UK workforce in the years ahead.

Responding to the report, CBI director for employment and skills Neil Carberry said: "Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people - such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity - is just as important as academic or technical skills."