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Soft skills worth £88bn to UK economy

27th Jan 2015
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Research commissioned by entrepreneur James Caan and McDonalds has estimated soft skills to be worth £88bn to the UK economy. 

Caan and the company launched a new campaign for the greater recognition and promotion of these skills which they say are vital to the workforce.

This includes backing from the CBI, CIPD and Barclays, and calls for a re-evaluation of the value of skills such as teamwork, time management, communication and emotional intelligence.

The research was produced by research group Development Economics. It claims that more than 1.5m workers will be held back by lack of soft skills by 2020. 

The sectors most at risk of this will be accommodation, food services and retail. Around 97% of businesses the research consulted with considered soft skills to be important to them but the majority also believe there's a soft skills gap in the workforce. 

As such, McDonalds has opened a three-month consultation aimed at asking businesses, trade groups and policy experts for their ideas on how to share and improve soft skills in the workforce.

And while this is aimed at the broad spectrum of industries available today, the importance of soft skills to accountants has long been discussed on AccountingWEB. 

Recently, our series of 21st century finance articles on listening and interpersonal skills along with emotional intelligence have been well-read and debated. 

While some of the comments have been negative from the more sceptical, many members showed support for a greater need of listening skills when dealing with clients, emotional intelligence with colleagues and again clients, and the need for a greater awareness of soft skills as a whole.

This may be backed up by a 2010 Grant Thornton survey, which said that 55% of CFOs considered that the biggest challenge in recruiting accountancy professionals was finding applicants with the necessary soft skills beyond the normal competences and qualifications expected of an accounting professional.


Replies (4)

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By Vaughan Blake1
27th Jan 2015 12:38

Another meaningless statistic!

Hopefully they only spent a couple of minutes making the 'estimate' and didn't waste too much time!

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By TaxTeddy
27th Jan 2015 13:08


Many years ago on HIGNFY Paul Merton remarked how many estimates in newspaper articles came in at £100 million. He thought they took the view "Just put £100m and we can go down the pub".

If they didn't do that when arriving at this estimate, they should have.

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By MattG
27th Jan 2015 13:51


If it had been Tesco and not McDonalds maybe they would have put more focus on technical accounting skills, like booking income in the correct year ;-). You can have as many soft skills as you like, but it won't save you to have good interpersonal skills when HMRC or your shareholders are out for blood because you reported incorrect figures...

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03rd Feb 2015 16:37

On the other hand ...

Perhaps more relevant in IT where clear explanations etc. can prevent projects falling apart


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