What are soft skills and why do you need them?

Sophie Kirby, Head of Education & Partnerships 

Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. They are non-technical skills that help you work effectively, and whilst not a new concept, they are fast being recognised and sought out by employers. 

Soft skills are sometimes difficult to define and to feel confident in stating you have. In a recent LinkedIn Workplace Learning report, they identified the top five soft skills most needed by employees to grow their careers and propel their organisations forward. 

  • Creativity. Creative thinking is the ability to look at things differently and find new ways of solving problems. 
  • Persuasion. Not limited to sales, persuasion is about clear, open communication to share ideas and agree consensus. 
  • Collaboration. More than team playing, collaboration is about working with others to successfully achieve a common goal. 
  • Adaptability. Being flexible and being able to respond when things don’t go to plan, is the key to adaptability.  As businesses become more agile, they need more adaptable teams. 
  • Emotional intelligence. No small task, being emotionally intelligent is about recognising our own emotions and understanding what impact they have on people around us. 

Why do I need soft skills? 

Soft skills are just as important to consider when planning your personal development as hard, practical skills. These skills can take you forward through personal and professional roles and are transferable no matter where your career takes you. 

They’re also less likely to be offered as formal training by your employer, and so can be a great area to tackle by yourself, or with the help of a programme such as our Rising Star Awards. 

How can I improve my soft skills? 

You can improve your soft skills in various ways, including: 

  • Learning about the different soft skills and what they meanYou can do this by research, speaking to managers and colleagues and through training courses 
  • Gaining confidence through practice 
  • Evaluating your performance. Reflect and see if you can find ways to adapt and change in the future, when the scenario arises again 

Soft skills are relevant in all job roles and in all industries, and commentators suggest they will gain greater importance into the future. Many organisations in our sector have had to change and adapt due to the pandemic, often asking their staff to become generalists, spanning multiple roles and functions, rather than specialists. It’s easy to see why these top five soft skills would be beneficial in this circumstance, and why employers will be looking for them in future employees. 

Why not check out this list of online courses.

Rising Star Awards

Are you looking to improve your soft skills? Our Rising Star Awards recognise young talent in the print, publishing and packaging sectors and winners receive funding of up to £1500 which could go toward a soft skills training course.   

To be named a 2021 Rising Star, you need to: 

  • Be working in the industry 
  • Be aged between 18 – 30 
  • Know what you need to advance your career 

Applications are open now. To apply, read our eligibility criteria and complete our application form before 7 March 2021. 

Get in touch

If you, or someone you know needs support, or you’d like to know more about our free, confidential helpline, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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