Then, we evaluated the returns to soft skills by estimating wage regressions in France. The results showed that a one standard deviation increase in soft skills is associated with a 4.2% increase in hourly wage, and a one standard deviation increase in numeracy skills is associated with a by 4.4%. Simply put, the correlation between individual salaries and soft skills is as high as the correlation between individual salaries and numeracy skills. These results were consistent with Previous search who felt that soft skills were at least as important as numeracy skills.
Examining differences by level of education, we found that returns to soft skills were positive for individuals with and without tertiary education, and slightly higher for individuals with tertiary education.
How to close the gap
A number of targeted early childhood and school-based interventions have been shown to improve soft skills and outcomes later in life. For instance, recent search found a causal link between soft skills training in childhood and long-term outcomes, including higher self-confidence and self-control, better academic performance, lower crime, higher employment, and less dependence on social transfers in adulthood. We propose that a greater focus on the development of soft skills in French schools is needed to provide children with important tools for the future, as they are currently disadvantaged compared to their peers in the OECD. However, this will require profound changes in the French education system.
Additionally, we suggest that the French government extend its soft skills assessment of school-aged children to all schools. This would allow stakeholders to track developments in these critical skills, facilitate the evaluation of large-scale policies and reforms, and signal France’s commitment to prioritizing the soft skills agenda. Finally, it could help position France as a pioneer in taking soft skills seriously on a large scale.
But soft skills are malleable and can also be developed in adulthood. On-the-job training programs can play a role in raising the level of soft skills. For example, a Randomized controlled trial in India was conducted to assess the returns to social skills training provided to employees of a large garment exporting company. The training included topics such as time management, effective communication, problem solving and financial literacy. As a result, there was a 10% increase in garment production, a 12% increase in efficiency, and workers were able to perform more complex tasks.
There are clear avenues for increasing the soft skills capabilities of children and adults. Investing in these skills will have long-term positive impacts and produce high returns on investment. Ultimately, an investment in soft skills will pay off.