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"Soft skills" are essential, say employers

24 Apr 2007

"Soft skills" are essential, say employers Female students about to graduate are at an advantage, some experts suggest - because they possess the emotional skills employers want.

Although there are more students graduating from UK universities than ever before, many employers say there is a lack of graduates with essential "soft" skills such as team working, communication and the ability to listen and empathise.

Ian Pearson, a futurologist for British Telecom (BT) explains that we are quickly moving into a "care economy". Speaking to the BBC, he said that as technology becomes increasingly advanced, "people will have to focus on being people, using their emotional skills".

Cheryl Clemmons, a programme manager for Broadband East Sussex, agreed, saying: "Softer interpersonal skills that cannot be replaced by a system will be better valued than the more rigid skills."

Careers traditionally requiring exceptional interpersonal skills - such as nursing - are still dominated by women.

Abbas Jaffer, European head of diversity for investment banking firm Morgan Stanley, says that women are typically better at coaching, mentoring and managing - all skills increasingly sought by employers.

But male students don't have to panic just yet. Mr Pearson reassures men that the jobs are still there as long as they approach them in the right way. He says: "We aren't unemployable. But we will have to rethink what we do."

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