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Responsible banking 23 Nov 2017

What are soft skills and how are they used?

In the business world, we increasingly hear the term “soft skills.” It refers to the social skills that can only be acquired in everyday life, that allow people to successfully integrate into work environments. The demand for soft skills is on the rise, but how can we strengthen them?

Motivation, active listening, personal and social responsibility, autonomy, team work… Soft skills are values that are indeed on the rise, and which complement the so-called “hard skills” – the ones required to perform a job and which are acquired with years of education and professional experience.

Soft skills are becoming very important in employee selection processes. In its study Soft Skills 4 Talent 2016, the Manpower Group, a company that specializes in talent strategy, concluded that these skills “are useful to overcome the competitive challenges in different sectors and markets. According to the study, which included 3,791 companies from eight European countries, the ideal candidate’s background should be diverse and include skills such as “problem solving, goal orientation and collaboration.”

Soft skills and financial knowledge 

Given this rapidly changing job outlook, can financial education help young people improve their soft skills to be better candidates in the future? The Junior Achievement Foundation and the University of Murcia looked into this question.  It measured the impact of the financial education program “Your finances, your future,” developed in collaboration with the Spanish Banking Association, had on 500 students.  Based on the youth’s responses to a questionnaire about their cognitive abilities, the study produced very favorable results.

Thanks to “Your finances, your future,” the students also improved their skills in other fields. The numbers are surprising. Their math skills improved 27%; their growth mindset – or the belief that improvement is possible through hard work – rose 20%; perseverance for tasks that are not motivating increased 38%; postponement of rewards climbed 36%; and educational expectations like going to college soared 37%. Even unexcused absences at school fell by 66%.

Soft skills and entrepreneurship

These data support the thesis that it is increasingly necessary for young people to receive financial education and strengthen their soft skills, in order to ensure themselves a bright future in the business world. For this reason, CSR Europe and the European Commission organized the First European Business-Education Summit, which will be held in Brussels from November 22 to the 24. José Manuel González-Páramo, BBVA’s Executive Member of the Board, Head of Global Economics, Regulation and Public Affairs will, participate in the panel discussion ”Mainstream entrepreneurship and soft skills in learning” at this international event.

The summit is part of the European Vocational Skills Week and will be a place for companies, youth, EU officials and education institution to come together in a common space. The event is meant to be an opportunity to share reflections, foment the connection between the corporate and academic worlds, foster collaboration and promote educational and vocational programs for youth.

It’s important to acquire financial education, not only to improve other skills, but also to update financial knowledge. To stay up to date, the Center for Educación and Financial Capability offers all relevant information on financial education in the world.

*If you are interested in employment, connect with BBVA at LinkedIn to get related information and info on similar topics

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