Soft skills: why companies ask for them more and more

The Uruguayan labor market is in a post-pandemic growth dynamics and soft skills —also known as socio-emotional or transversal skills— they begin to have an increasingly important relevance for recruiters.

Soft skills areskills associated with emotional intelligence and the ability of an individual to interact effectively on a personal and professional levell. Some examples are leadership, communication, negotiation, training, motivation, delegation, decision-making, initiative and innovation.

Last Thursday, the Center for Development Studies (CED) together with Equipos Consultores and the online job search portal Buscojobs presented their second labor market report called Soft skills and the job market.

It highlights, in the first instance, a situation in the Uruguayan labor market growing and increasingly dynamic. This is reflected in the data presented —obtained from the Buscojobs portal— that show a 56% increase in the number of companies posting job openings monthly in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021. In turn, the vacancies published and the applications registered They also grew close to 20% compared to what was registered in the first quarter of 2021.

For the report, a survey was made of some 60 people linked to human resources Y personnel selection processes about their perceptions and assessments of soft skills. The survey included 50 companies from various sectorswhich use a total about 17 thousand people. Half of them are looking staff at least 10 times a year and 40% declared having active search processes throughout the year.

That survey produced a hard data that shows the positioning of companies regarding soft skills, which is the very low number of responses, twowho say that soft skills are never more important than technical knowledge. The rest of the responses can be separated into two groups of companies: the first is that, which brought together 36 companiesfor which the value of soft skills relative to technical skills depends on the position in question. The second, with 36 companiesis the one for which soft skills are at least as important.

The economist Felipe Migues, coordinator of the CED labor monitortold El Observador that soft skills are “increasingly relevant” and that the results of the report are an important input “thinking of the people who seek to enter the labor market and the training of people”.

“What role do they have and how do they work from the curriculum to the classroom at all levels, not only in secondary education but also in university and how we train in soft skills that companies point out as highly relevant”, he added.

The evaluation

In relation to soft skills, the Buscojobs portal offers users the possibility of performing a test called D`Anchianowhich was built with 100 professionals from the field of Human Resources (HR) and what is it for evaluate 18 transversal competences which today has more than 600 thousand applications in more than 30 countries. These skills can be further grouped into 6 vectors, which make up 3 dimensions.

The report indicates that although the D`Anchiano questionnaire is not a psychometric test or a proper evaluation of transversal competences, The structure of this tool widely used in personnel selection processes in various countries and companies is a source of information available for them to evaluate their candidates.

The results

According to the document, in 2021 Almost 25 thousand people who used Buscojobs to apply for vacancies completed the transversal skills test. From these data it is revealed that in the context dimension, the best evaluations are seen in the competencies of commitment, collaboration and adaptation. In the task dimension, average results are seen, with the competences of productivity and quality as the best valued while supervision and knowledge have the lowest value.

Soft skills: why companies ask for them more and more

In the people dimension is in which lower valuations are seenparticularly in the competitions of leadership, negotiation and delegationsince they are understood to be skills associated with roles that have personnel in charge.

The report notes that the general profile of the applicants seems better oriented to the context with a relatively committed, collaborative and adaptable action to change; somewhat less oriented towards concrete task and skills associated with the ability to achieve expected results of the tasks that make up the occupation; and practically very little orientedoa competencies that might be expected from roles that involve managing staff: for example, boss, coordinator, manager or person in charge.

Migues understands that this is an important fact to understand what are the “weakest” skills. In turn, he pointed out that another outstanding fact is that “educational levels do not seem to move the needle in the generation of soft skills”.

Soft skills: why companies ask for them more and more

The difference by age is one of the data that can mean a “alert” since, as Migues explained, people in larger age groups “have more development” in competitions of leadership, communication, decision-making, supervision and delegation unlike young peoplebut “lose task orientation, productivity, and quality” and have a “much lower orientation to adaptation and training”.

“These are two competencies that, to face such a dynamic labor market, seem relevant. Adapting to changes and being proactive in continuing to train for people aged 40 to 45, many of whom are going to be faced with having to reconvert their occupations, seems like a space for work and improvement”, he explained.

Soft skills: why companies ask for them more and more

In the case of young people —more oriented to tasks of productivity and quality, more adaptable and oriented to training— they have the challenge of “start developing other leadership, communication and decision-making skills that are also relevant”, especially thinking “in the labor market and companies that have as great challenges the training of middle managers”.

For Miguel, “the spirit” of this report in particular and of the labor monitor of the CED in general is that of “provide information for decision making” and that the data presented “they have an actuality that adds value”.

The report points out, in terms of educational proposal and curriculum design, which skills are most in demand and where the main gaps seem to be in terms of what the candidate offers and what the companies demand, seen from the labor market”, he pointed out.

The labor market is an essential part of people’s development. There is no social insertion without successful labor insertion. So, this false dichotomy of training for the job market and training people with critical thinking, collaborative, It is not aligned on the same trajectory. This indicates, based on a specific tool, some specific things that can be guiding and that, due to their relevance, can be very relevant.”, he concluded.

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