Soft Skills: A few words on this week's #ukfechat by David Patterson @dp40days

Soft Skills #ukfechat on Thursday 5th February A few years ago I felt was on the verge of delivering a major coup. I’d managed to get an appointment with the Head of Recruitment (North of England) from one of our largest Banking Groups. We met together with the regional manager of the Group and my prime objective was to understand their qualification requirements and to discuss how I could end-fit some of our main curriculum routes to their recruitment needs. My mind was full of qualifications, core and option units, bespoke add-ons...

Had I given it a bit more thought, I could have predicted what he would say - that he would say exactly what almost every business skills survey over the past ten years has said. He wasn’t particularly interested in A Levels, BTECs, or NVQs of various shapes and sizes. He wasn’t really at all fussy about which particular qualifications our students had achieved or what was in them. What he wanted were people who were self-motivated, worked well in a team, empathised with customers… in short, he wanted soft skills, not hard qualifications.

As luck, or good planning, would have it, the college I was then with had been working with a leading university and an awarding body specialising in theatre and dance to develop a behavioural curriculum model specialising in soft skills and focusing on employability. So all was not lost. The work we developed became one of a number of different approaches to developing and accrediting soft skills.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s with James Caan launched their Backing Soft Skills campaign. Campaign partners offering their support include the Association of Colleges, NIACE, Learndirect, the CBI, the CIPD, amongst others. Seemed like a good time to have a #ukfechat about all this?

So, we’re going to look at soft skills in our chat this Thursday 5th February. As always, the chat will go where it will go. In the meantime, however, the sort of questions we could be considering are:

  • Are we clear which soft skills are the really important ones for our learners?
  • How can we use initial assessment to capture soft skill levels at entry in the same way we do for the harder skills of literacy and numeracy?
  • Can we really use our hard skills models to assess and accredit the softer skills?
  • To what extent are our Programmes of Study embedding these soft skills, and should it be done implicitly or explicitly?

So go on, settle down with your snowman and an unbranded fast food product and consider soft skills as one of your #teacher5aday #learn. I might even blog you something in return afterwards!