McDonald’s UK and James Caan lead coalition calling for re-evaluation of soft skills

Research reveals soft skills such as communication, teamwork and time management worth £88bn to the UK economy. 97 per cent of UK employers highlight the importance of soft skills to commercial success. By 2020, more than half a million workers will be held back by a lack of soft skills


McDonald’s UK has launched a new campaign to drive recognition and promotion of soft skills as, for the first time, research demonstrates the £88 billion contribution these skills make to the UK economy.  
Backed by entrepreneur James Caan CBE and leading organisations including the CBI, National Youth Agency, LearnDirect and Barclays, McDonald’s is calling for a whole-scale re-evaluation of the value of soft skills.
Through the campaign, McDonald’s and the coalition of supporters will invite businesses, policy experts, campaign groups, trade associations and academics to help create and share new ways to recognise and improve soft skills in the workplace. A three-month consultation has opened and the findings and a series of long-term recommendations will be published later in 2015.
New economic research commissioned by McDonald’s to inform the campaign reveals that soft skills contribute £88 billion to the UK economy today. The report, produced by Development Economics, forecasts that this will increase to £109 billion during the next five years.
The research also highlights a series of early warning signs that employers, government and educators are not currently supporting soft skills sufficiently to realise their potential contribution. 
UK employers and workers echo this anxiety about the future. While 97 per cent of employers believe soft skills are important to their current business success – and more than half rate them more highly than academic qualifications – three-quarters believe there is already a soft skills gap in the UK workforce.  
Meanwhile, UK employees say they struggle to sell their soft skills. One in five would not feel confident describing their soft skills to an employer and more than half (54 per cent) have never included soft skills on their CV.
Jez Langhorn, chief people officer, McDonald’s UK & Northern Europe, said: “Soft skills like communication and teamwork are incredibly important to our business because of the impact they can have on our customers’ experience. As integral as they are to the performance and progression of our employees, I know that we can do more to recognise their importance which is why we are launching this campaign. In conjunction with James Caan, and a wide range of businesses and organisations I want to find ways in which we can better recognise soft skills and I’m calling on others to join us in re-evaluating and improving these skills.”
McDonald’s has invited entrepreneur James Caan CBE to jointly lead a three-month consultation on current practices and attitudes towards soft skills. The consultation will result in a series of recommendations published later in the year to improve, support and promote soft skills in the workplace. “Soft skills matter – to individuals, to businesses, and to the wider UK economy. Part of the success in my journey wasn’t about my qualifications or experience, but it was the value I gave to soft skills that helped me get to where I am today,” Caan said.
Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, added: “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. In an ever more competitive jobs market, it is such qualities that will give our young talent a head start and also allow existing employees to progress to higher skilled, better paid roles.” 


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