Nine in 10 UK employers believe soft skills are more important than ever, with communication, leadership and problem-solving named among the most in-demand skills in the UK.
LinkedIn’s analysis of job listings, recruiter messages and the skills possessed by recent hires found that soft skills reign supreme for UK employers in 2024, making up most of the top 10 most in-demand skills.
Communication was the most desired skill mentioned on LinkedIn’s platform, followed by customer service, management, leadership and teamwork.
A survey of hiring managers in December and January found that 92% felt soft skills were of utmost importance.
However, seven in 10 felt that skills gaps would grow in the next five years because of the pace of technological change, which LinkedIn suggested would require organisations to prioritise the development of both soft skills and artificial intelligence capabilities.
Younger workers who have recently entered the workforce for the first time will need additional support, with 70% of hiring managers stating that Gen Z employees need further help to develop soft skills like collaboration and communication.
Nearly half (47%) of people in this age group said they were already spending more time on L&D to get ahead in their careers.
A third of HR professionals are planning to offer online training and development, while 29% expect to introduce guidance around the use of generative AI at work.
Soft skills in demand
Luke Mckend, senior director, LinkedIn Talent Solutions, UK said: “While businesses are undoubtedly keen to boost AI literacy, they are also prioritising the development of soft skills among their teams – particularly Gen Z employees who are finding their feet in the workplace and are eager for greater support and development opportunities.
“By pairing these uniquely human skills with the potential of AI, business leaders know that they can give their organisations a cutting edge, and make their workforce more resilient to future changes.”
Recipe box company Gousto has several development programmes to help employees cultivate their soft skills.
Head of people Sophie Manners said: “Our ‘Power Up’ programme develops six key ‘power’ skills, including building resilience, growth mindset and collaboration. Our ‘Leading the Way’ programme focuses on core human skills of leadership and different ways of seeing things.
“While being a tech business run on AI, people are the key to our success, and developing soft skills will forever be a huge priority for the business.”
Jason Flynn, Global head of learning at NielsenIQ, said: “In the rapidly moving world of AI, adaptability is not just advantageous, it’s imperative. While technology training is essential, the true differentiator lies in the ability to remain agile and possess the personal skills to understand the opportunities, build relationships and eloquently convey the narrative of what the technology offers, both internally and to our clients.”