“Lost in translation”. Soft skills development in European countries

Maria Cinque


The world of work is changing profoundly, at a time when the global economy is not creating a sufficient number of jobs. Many documents issued by the EU and various researches, carried out by companies and human resources experts, point out that the so-called “soft” skills are closely connected with employability, particularly for young people entering the labour market. At present, EU countries have different methodologies and approaches to the teaching and assessment of soft skills. Another obstacle is represented by the absence of a common language. There are different ways of naming ‘soft skills’, different definitions of them, different manners of classifying and clustering them. The article explores some classifications of soft skills and presents a collection of best practices and methods for teaching and learning them at University level, taking into account different perspectives and basing on the results of two European projects focused on this topic. The final goal is to provide an analysis aimed at the identification of the most important soft skills needed for a successful transition from University education to the labour market. The analysis includes a brief chronological excursus on relevant studies on the subject, a review of current literature on employability skills, quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (focus groups) researches from Europe and Third Countries, identifying the range of soft skills relevant for newly graduates. The aim of this overview is to enhance understanding of soft skills and to indicate key areas for soft skill development at University level.


soft skills; employability; university; terminology; taxonomies; best practices

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18543/tjhe-3(2)-2016pp389-427


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