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Workforce Connections: Key ''Soft Skills'' that Foster Youth Workforce Success: Toward a Consensus Across Fields

June 2015 —  “Soft skills,” those attributes that allow individuals to successfully navigate their work environments, are centrally important for human capital development and workforce success. Nevertheless, a soft skills “gap” is noted by many employers around the world, who report that job candidates lack the soft skills needed to fill available positions. 

This report helps bring clarity to the field by identifying social skills, communication, higher-order thinking, self-control and positive self-concept as five critical skills that increase the chance that youth ages 15–29 will be successful in the workforce. These findings emerge from a multifaceted study that includes an extensive review of research, as well as broad stakeholder input. Youth who develop these soft skills were shown to be better able to identify, use and communicate their strengths; relate well to others; make good decisions; and contribute to their workplaces and communities, leading to a range of positive workforce outcomes.