Soft skills

Soft skills statistics in the UK in 2022

Soft skills are absolutely essential in the workplace, whether you’re at the bottom of the corporate ladder or you’re a CEO. High levels of social and emotional intelligence make a big difference when it comes to workplace performance. This is true for those who manage teams of employees, work as part of a team, and even those who work independently.

But which soft skills are the most important in the eyes of the British workforce? And which skills are we most eager to learn? To find out, we conducted a survey of UK adults alongside an analysis of online search volumes conducted over the last five years on the topic of soft skills.

Key findings: list of soft skills in the workplace - what's in demand?

An overview of our key soft skills facts and figures:

Leadership soft skills: which soft skills do UK adults most want their managers to possess?

If you’re a manager, your employees will notice if there’s something to be desired when it comes to your communication or leadership soft skills. But many soft skills are also often up for debate in terms of their effectiveness. That’s why we wanted to find out exactly which soft skills are regarded as being the most important in the UK workplace.

In March 2022, we used the market research tool Censuswide to conduct a survey asking 2,000 UK adults:

“What skills do you think are most important for a manager at work to possess, if any?” (Tick up to three)

Answer options:

As you can see from the chart: the four major desirable soft skills are detailed below.

Desirable soft skills for managers and leaders

Do men and women prioritise soft skills differently?

Numerous studies have observed the differences in the qualities and attributes of men and women in the workplace. But what hasn’t been studied as extensively is the impact our gender has on the qualities we look for in a manager or prospective employer. That’s why we asked all of our survey participants to disclose their gender when answering the question “What skills do you think are most important for a manager at work to possess, if any?”

As you can see from the chart: leadership soft skills remain a priority for all genders.

Scope of soft skills preference – men vs women

What do different age groups believe are the most important soft skills?

There are many different factors that can influence which attributes we value the most at work, and one of the most obvious is age. But do UK workers of different generations value different soft skills in their managers? To find out, we asked each of our survey respondents to tell us their age when answering the survey.

As you can see from the table: stark contrasts between the soft skills competencies valued by each age group.

Soft skills competencies: how do various age groups regard workplace soft skills?

Which different types of soft skills do we most want to learn most?

Personal and professional development depends on acquiring and using a wide range of soft skills. We now know which attributes UK adults most want their managers to possess. But which soft skills do we most want to improve for ourselves?

To find out, we conducted an analysis of tens of thousands of online searches relating to soft skills conducted in the UK over the last five years using the tool Keyword Finder. This enabled us to discover which qualities UK adults most want to learn and develop, and which are most sought-after in different towns and cities across the country.

As you can see from the chart: the demand for soft skills in communication is steadily climbing, while networking rises sharply.

In demand: list of soft skills in the workplace based on search volume

Which UK city is most eager to improve its soft skills?

Every month in the UK, tens of thousands of us turn to Google to look for ways to become more employable, learn new skills, and improve the skills we already have - whether that’s through online courses, conferences, events and talks, or even looking for a career coach or mentor.

But which towns and cities in the UK are most keen to expand their soft skills? To find out, we conducted another analysis of online searches, but this time looking at the locations in which these searches are most commonly performed.

Our analysis found that:

Methodology and considerations

We used the Keyword Finder tool to obtain the average yearly searches for common soft-skills related terms and divided each town or city’s value by its population, before multiplying by 100,000 to calculate the number of average yearly searches per 100,000 people for each term.

It’s important to note; although we’ve suggested that the locations with the highest rates of searches for specific skills correlate to interest in learning more about them, this may not necessarily be the case. Search intent will likely differ from person to person, and some individuals may be searching for these terms for purposes other than learning.

Soft skills statistics in the UK – 2022 summary

If that’s not enough, here are some more of the latest facts, figures and statistics surrounding soft skills in 2022:

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