Press Release: Britain’s soft skills crisis ‘threatens UK’s future economic prosperity’
Educators and business leaders believe that Britain and other European countries are suffering from a soft skills crisis which is threatening employee productivity, new research from Instructure reveals.
- 64 per cent of UK businesses don’t think graduates have the soft skills needed for work
- Three in five educators say that soft skills aren’t prioritised in the classroom
- Recruiters prioritise problem-solving and collaboration skills above university degrees
The Instructure Skills Study: preparing for the 2030 workplace report shows that two-thirds of both secondary school teachers (68 per cent) and businesses (64 per cent) believe that students don’t have the soft skills needed to be successful at work. Furthermore, seven in ten think that soft skills don’t get enough attention in the much-publicised skills gap debate (69 per cent of businesses and 73 per cent of secondary school teachers).
Instructure’s report, which draws on independent research from Censuswide, calls for closer collaboration between academia and industry to close the gap.
Recent industry research has revealed that the top skills employees need to be successful are all interpersonal soft skills – having empathy, being a good listener, supporting colleagues and critical thinking. And yet the new analysis from Instructure shows that educators aren’t currently delivering on these needs. The report reveals that it’s not just that soft skills don’t get enough attention, but that ‘hard’ skills may get too much. Around three in five teachers (62 per cent) and business leaders (58 per cent) feel that schools and universities prioritise ‘hard skills’ (technical abilities and subject-specific disciplines) at the expense of less technical but highly valuable soft skills.
The report reveals that the skills business leaders believe are most critical to today’s workforce are problem-solving (51 per cent), followed by collaboration and teamwork (38 per cent). Perhaps unsurprisingly, digital literacy (35 per cent) is also highly prized by employers, just ahead of critical thinking (32 per cent).
The skills and qualifications that are viewed as less important by both business leaders and teachers are holding a university degree (11 per cent among businesses and teachers) and speaking a foreign language (10 per cent among SMEs and 8 percent among teachers).
Despite their importance, more than a quarter (28%) of SMEs say they wouldn’t know where to begin to improve their employees’ soft skills, and Instructure’s report provides concrete advice for schools and businesses alike in how to encourage soft skill acquisition alongside other priorities.
Sam Blyth, Senior Director, Education, EMEA at Instructure, said: “It is clear the UK is suffering from an overlooked soft skills crisis, which threatens to make employees less productive and ultimately negatively impact on the prosperity of business. Our report calls for closer collaboration between industry and academia in order to fuel the workforce with better skilled graduates. Instructure delivers flexible, easy to use learning technology to businesses and schools, designed helps students of all ages develop transferable skills – encouraging independent learning and powering time management, research and critical thinking skills.”
Instructure (NYSE: INST) helps people grow from the first day of school to the last day of work. More than 30 million people use the Canvas Learning Management Platform for schools and the Bridge Employee Development Platform for businesses. More information at www.instructure.com.
ABOUT THE RESEARCH
The research for the Instructure Skills was conducted in March 2019 by Censuswide and surveyed 1,000 businesses and 500 secondary school teachers. Censuswide’s online research is conducted according to Market Research Society guidelines, and is nationally representative. Participants were not told they were participating in a survey on behalf of Instructure.