Last updated: 19.03.15

Retail and food services workers 'lack soft skills'

Workers in the retail and food services sectors are likely to be held back by a soft skills deficit, according to new research.

The latest report by Development Economics, commissioned by McDonald's UK, forms part of a long-term campaign to re-evaluate the value of soft skills - personal attributes that characterise relationships with other people.

Past research has revealed that soft skills are worth £88 billion to the UK economy and around £8 billion to the food and retail services alone.

Development Economics' new report predicted that in five years' time more than 122,000 employees in these sectors will be held back by a lack of soft skills, such as teamwork, time management and communication.

In comparison, the report predicted that the soft skills deficit will affect almost 53,000 workers in the health and social care sector, and almost 41,000 in professional services - significantly lower than those in the retail and food sectors.

The report also found that the value of soft skills is becoming increasingly recognised by businesses, with 70 per cent of employers in the retail sector regarding soft skills as more important than academic qualifications, 97 per cent believing them to be vital to business success, and a further 65 per cent predicting soft skills will become more important in the future.

Speaking to HR Magazine, Katerina Rudiger, head of skills and policy campaigns at the CIPD, said: "Our members regularly tell us that so-called 'soft skills', such as communication, teamwork and resilience, are among the key attributes they look for when they recruit.

"If young people are to be able to transition successfully from education to the world of work they must be given the opportunity to develop and demonstrate these skills."

Virtual College has developed a range of online business skills courses to help companies and their employees bridge the gaps in their training. To find out more about our Business Series, please visit: