Studies have shown that “soft skills,” or the non-academic attributes a person brings to the workplace, are an important complement to technical and academic career preparation, and just as important in predicting income, employment status, and other career-related factors. There is a worldwide soft-skills gap that employers note prevents otherwise qualified candidates from being hired, although there is no consensus as to which skills are the most important.
Child Trends has released a review of more than 380 resources, including empirical studies and the results of international projects, describing a set of soft skills that emerged as the most critical for the future workplace success of young people aged 15-29. Of the 380 studies reviewed, 172 met the inclusion criteria of being published in the last 20 years, being non-sector specific, and relating a soft skill to one of four workforce outcomes: employment, performance/promotion, income, and entrepreneurial success.
The soft skills deemed as most critical from the review of research were:
Higher-order thinking, such as solving problems, making decisions, and thinking critically
The authors discuss the implications of these findings with regard to workforce-development and skill-training programmes for young people.