Profound global changes in the use of technology and the nature of work have urgent implications for how we educate young people and prepare them for the labour market. Employers are increasingly looking for youth who are flexible, adaptable, proactive, creative and collaborative. In short, youth need soft skills: the broad set of skills, attitudes, behaviours and personal qualities that enable them to effectively navigate their environment, work with others, perform well and achieve their goals. There is a growing awareness of the value of soft skills to both employee productivity and the healthy development of young people in general. The development of soft skills is deeply intertwined with academic and technical skill development. Though soft skills are increasingly seen to benefit youth in all domains of life, these skills are poorly understood, not well assessed, and too often overlooked in policy and institutional contexts, including education, training and the workplace.
This report summarizes areas of consensus regarding soft skills from the perspective of the Youth Employment Funders Group (YEFG), a network of donors working together to generate and share more and better evidence-based knowledge on what works in the field of youth employment. The document provides a common understanding for policymakers, employers, donors, and civil society organizations, identifies implementation and evaluation challenges, and suggests directions for investment in cost-effective, scalable and sustainable interventions and knowledge.