Whenever I look at a CV I am always delighted to see that the applicant has spent time working with McDonalds. The number one thing it tells me is that the person is a grafter – keen, willing to work hard and most importantly of all equipped with a wide range of ‘soft skills’ including great communication, team work and time management.
I worked for McDonald’s myself when I was a student teacher in France and it was a great way to pick up language skills. Nowadays I visit with my children and when we pop in for breakfast at 7.30am I am full of admiration for the keen youngsters behind the counter who are up, cheerful and hard at work, when many of their contemporaries are still in bed! All credit to them – they are earning their own money and picking up valuable employability skills which will stand them in great stead throughout their working lives.
McDonald’s have done some research into the value of ‘soft skills’ and found that they contribute £88 billion to the UK economy today, with this contribution predicted to increase to £109 billion during the next five years. But they also discovered that by 2020 over half a million UK workers will be held back quite significantly by a lack of said soft skills, which will in turn affect all sectors of business in the UK.
At PET-Xi we similarly value skills such as communication and teamwork as they are vital components of good customer care. Being presentable and able to work efficiently, at the right pace are key factors affecting employability, and skills which I am always keen to discover and foster in my own team.
I believe that such ‘soft skills’ are very important to business success – just as important as ‘hard’ academic results in many areas, such as resolving conflict and ensuring that customers have a happy experience.
The McDonald’s ‘Backing Soft Skill’s campaign’ is supported by, among many others, the I Can charity which helps children communicate. Their research shows that in some socially deprived parts of the UK, upwards of 50 per cent of children and young people have poor speech, language and communication skills, potentially limiting their success at school as well as their life chances.
Our PET-Xi courses can help here – particularly in overcoming communication difficulties and removing this and other barriers to learning. Literacy and numeracy skills are now more important than ever – GCSE C grades are vital gateways through to other courses and improved prospects – so our focus and support for these ‘hard skills’ never wavers. But I recognise that serving it with a ‘side order of soft skills’ is critical to a child’s future!
Fleur Sexton is Joint Managing Director of PET-Xi, leading provider of intensive, immersive, motivational, results-based interventions that have a positive impact on learner progress from primary to GCSEs.