On the adaptation of a Soft Skills taxonomy system


Study: Transferabilityof Skillsacross Economic Sectors

Study: Transferability of Skills across Economic Sectors

Elaborated by RPIC-ViP in cooperation with experts from Institut für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Kultur (Germany), National Training Fund (Czech Republic), Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (Czech Republic), TREXIMA (Czech Republic)

Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2011

ISBN 978-92-79-20946-8


© European Union, 2011

This document tries to justify why the taxonomy of soft skills proposed to the above study is of great interest and why an adjustment of the grouping of NESSIE soft skills could empower the NESSIE’s training environment.

The above study has defined different categories of skills and has assigned to different occupations and also to different economic sectors. One of the categories is soft skills and is similar to the group of soft skills that come from MASS to fit in NESSIE.

We thing that the benefits of embracing the taxonomy proposed in the above study can be significant, resulting from the following two reasons:

  1. Detailed definitions of the soft skills

The definition of the 22 soft skills included in the above study, is given in great detail. A short extract of the definition table is given below.

Cluster of relationship and service skills  This cluster involves skills intending to meet someone else’s needs, attuning oneself to the concerns and needs of the others, working to meet those needs. Although the Communication skills are linked to all skills in all clusters it is included in cluster because of its important role in relationships building and communication with others. 
SS08: Cooperation with others  Cooperation or teamwork implies a genuine intention to work cooperatively with others, to be part of a team, to work together as opposed to working separately or competitively. The scale of cooperation may be considered whenever the subject is a member of a group of people functioning as a team. Team membership need not to be formally defined – people from different level or departments who communicate with each other to solve a problem or complete a project are functioning as a team. The team may be anything from a 3-person, one-shot task force to the crew of a battleship. Teamwork/cooperation maybe shown in any role within a team and the individual does not need to be a leader or in a position of formal authoritySub-skills:Usefulness
  • willingness and ability to share one’s knowledge & skills
  • ability to put in enough effort so as not to be just dragged along by the team efforts
  • ability to argue constructively
  • ability to take on tasks & delegate
  • ability to think along with others


  • ability to respect the vision & opinions of others
  • ability to play by the rules
  • ability to keep focused on the common goal
  • ability to participate in common tasks
  • ability to compromise

Attitude (approach to others, empathy)

  • ability to be forthcoming & tolerant of others
  • ability to create a good environment (friendly, cooperative atmosphere)
  • ability to tackle problems as they arise
  • ability to appreciate the role of others & give them feedback
  • ability to trust the competence of others
  • ability to take on group roles & positions

 SS09: Communication This competence presents the ability to communicate in active way, to listen, to understand and to argue. It includes also the skill of good presentation. This implies basic skills in verbal and oral communication in mother language.Sub-skills:Active communication

  • expressing oneself clearly and comprehensibly to others
  • ability of expressing oneself in writing
  • ability to also express disagreement
  • ability to communicate with different kinds of people
  • being capable of self-reflection (ability to adjust one’s communication based on reactions of the recipients)


As it can be seen in the above table each skill definition contains a short description and a list of sub skills, which can also be seen as outcomes that one have to demonstrate in order to justify the acquisition of the skill.

Based on the above taxonomy we believe that both the educational material and the assessment can be developed in a much more systematical way than with the (almost luck of) definitions in the MASS approach. They provide the basis for developing educational targets, exercises and assessment targets. Generally they allow for better structuring of the materials and trainings. What they actually provide is the content we should include in each soft skill, which is not a trivial thing to do on our own.

On the other hand such an approach may set essential burden to the developer of the materials. For this reason a prioritization of the skills and sub-skills to be included is essential. Moreover an attempt should be made to use existing materials within the proposed framework.

  1. Ability of repackage the educational materials in order to meet the needs of different sectors

Additionally, the above mentioned study includes a correspondence table among several professions and the soft skills considered essential for each one.

 In the table below a short extract of the original table is given (there are 219 professions in total, organized in 20 sectors). This way the occupation-soft skills relation becomes clear.


Journalist, editor – Authors, journalists andother writers (2451)Journalist, editor is a person of higher qualificationpreparing news, articles and reports forpress, radio broadcasting or television andexecuting reporter, narrator and newscasteractivities. SS03 Flexibility, SS04 Creativity, SS06 Interpersonal understanding, SS09 Communication,SS10 Impact/Influence, SS14 Achievement orientation, SS16 Initiative-Active approach,SS20 Autonomy
Actor – Film, stage and related actors anddirectors (2455)Actor is a person with higher qualificationcreatively interpreting roles or telling prosaic,poetic and dramatic texts at the theatre, attelevison, radio or film. SS01 Self-control and stress resistance, SS02 Self-confidence, SS03 Flexibility, SS04 Creativity,SS06 Interpersonal understanding, SS08 Cooperation with others, SS09 Communication,SS10 Impact/Influence
Advertisement graphic designer – Decoratorsand commercial designer (3471)Advertisment graphic designer is a qualifiedperson performing special activities in graphicdesigning and implementing of promotionmaterials and items. SS03 Flexibility, SS04 Creativity, SS06 Interpersonal understanding, SS07 Customerorientation, SS08 Cooperation with others, SS09 Communication, SS16 Initiative-Activeapproach, SS22 Conceptual thinking
Programmer-analyst – Computer programmers(2131)Programmer – analyst – Computer programmeris a highly qualified person who on the basis ofsystemic analysis of processes and user requirementsprovides a logical and structuraldiagrams of information systems and computerapplications, programming, testing and tuningcomputer programs. SS05 Lifelong learning, SS08 Cooperation with others, SS09 Communication, SS14Achievement orientation, SS17 Problem solving, SS20 Autonomy, SS21 Analytical thinking,SS22 Conceptual thinking

We think that by following this taxonomy, the training system, maybe in a future stage, could take advantage of it and expand its potentials including references to specific occupations or in general occupational sectors. What we might be able to do is repackage a set of general materials as to reflect the requirements of a specific sector. This way we can “sell” the same materials in different forms.




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