Soft Skills for employability and competitiveness in the labor market

A transnational and cross-sectorial assessment developed by the ESSENCE Project

ESSENCE’s objective is to Improve employability opportunities for HE students leveraging on soft skills development. The objective is to maximize their engagement in the labour market offering professional development paths through training and education on soft and “intangible” skills.

ESSENCE develops and deploys a flexible and permeable learning pathway: users can access and exploit the training “on-demand” and “on a need basis” to enhance their soft skills literacy and professional self-empowerment.

Back in 2016, analysts from the World Economic Forum foreseen a major switch in what would have been by 2020 the “top 10 skills” for employability, recruitment, career development and business competitiveness. According to the report, the opportunity for fresh graduates and HE students to compete on the job market would depend increasingly on soft and relational skills, rather than mere technical competences…

WEF’s findings are corroborated by numerous international and academic resources that pinpoint with great emphasis the relevance of soft skills for employability in the new incoming decade.

On the basis of that, in the following two years ESSENCE will sustain the development among HE students of intangible and soft skills (such as sense of initiative, critical thinking, creativity and people management) to better strengthen their employability competitiveness in the labour market; its innovative methodology relies on demand-drive and bottom up approaches that will lead partners in the creation of several strategic results:

  1. Online interactive platform (OER Platform) in Multilanguage version: available here
  2. Transnational report highlighting the “most wanted” soft skills for employability in the EU labour market (desk research + survey conducted among 100 employers)
  3. Online business glossary to be used as a concepts-map as well as a reference to orientate students across the universe of soft skills
  4. Custom-made training courses related to self-empowerment soft skills for employability
  5. Visibility Events in the participating countries and international awareness of the project

Moreover, Partners foresee that project results will be disseminated, mainstreamed and made visible to an overall audience of more than 4 Millions contacts – as an estimated sum from the engagement of the public via offline and offline communication.

IDP is lead partner of Quality Assurance, Monitoring and Evaluation. Moreover the Italian SMEs has consolidated and proven-track experience in developing, implementation and validating training curricula for the professional development, capacity building and upskilling of young people, fresh graduates and job-seekers. IDP collaborates in close contact with local employment agencies, national HEI and other professional in the domain of employability, business consultancy, coaching and training. The presence of IDP assures for technical and pedagogical reliability of the education framework developed by partners as the organisation brings in the perspective of the private sector’s representative and employer.

Online is available the transnational and cross-sectorial assessment of soft skills for employability – formal deliverable of the second intellectual output of the project “Mapping soft skills with employability – The most desirable soft skills among job applicants”.

The executive summary includes three sections:

Part no 1. Tools & Good Practices – Research has shown that, at the recruitment stage, the assessment of whether the candidate has appropriate soft skills (or not) is based on observing the person during the interview.

here is no evidence that companies carry out (or are exceptions) special competence tests that show what competences (and at what level) a given candidate is characterized by, although the examples presented later in the report show interesting solutions in this area, but in the context of employees. In the case of employees of a given organization, the most common form of evaluation is the regular observation of the employee’s behavior during the performance of duties by the immediate supervisor, as well as the employee’s self-assessment in the hope that he will correctly recognize the areas in which he shows gaps (in terms of soft skills and even technical skills).

In this aspect, several solutions are also worth mentioning, suggesting a departure from traditional forms of assessment or competence development.

Part no 2. Country Report: National Approaches on Soft Skills and Employability – country public entities declare support in the area of preparing strategies and developing soft skills among youth people but these efforts are more related to the improvement of qualifications, formal aspects and technical skills, with the generic expression most commonly used being “competences”, and revealing a lack of specific information on the field of soft skills in the area of higher education, and therefore, their theoretical analysis and practical development concerning the employability of the group in question.

The actions of the universities appear to be more specific and will get more profitable effects in long term.

Collaboration remains the first step in improving the educational ecosystem. The public and private sectors and HEI need to align objectives in order to amplify the effectiveness of policies and the impact of investments. It is essential to develop a shared agenda, capable of aligning objectives and strategies to develop the skills of young people.

Part no 3. Primary Research on Soft Skills Mapping – The mapping of soft skills with employability was carried out with the full involvement of the project consortium. The first step in the research procedure was the review of secondary sources. Literature studies were aimed not only at building methodological foundations for the correct design of research.

Their aim was also to ensure the substantive correctness of the design of the research tools and the proper focusing of the center of gravity in the field of research on the explanation of the scientific problem presented in the project.

The conducted survey research aimed at mapping soft skills and their relationship with employability has produced a lot of valuable information. Diversified in terms of industry and sector, and at the same time an international research sample, the obtained results are of a cross-sectional character and allow for the construction of interesting conclusions on the role of soft skills in the contemporary labor market. Users can consult for free both the full report and the executive summary, which pinpoints main results and findings form the primary and secondary assessment (available in Multilanguage version EN, PL, HR, IT, LV, BG, ES).


For further information on ESSENCE and other IDP European Consultants initiatives:
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