Soft Skills Frameworks

Soft Skills Frameworks summary


There are a number of list of generic skills. Common elements of them are:
  • Basic/fundamental skills—such as literacy, using numbers, using technology
  • People-related skills—such as communication, interpersonal, teamwork, customer-service skills
  • Conceptual/thinking skills—such as collecting and organizing information, problem-solving, planning and organizing, learning-to-learn skills, thinking innovatively and creatively, systems thinking
  • Personal skills and attributes—such as being responsible, resourceful, flexible, able to manage own time, having self-esteem
  • Skills related to the business world—such as innovation skills, enterprise skills
  • Skills related to the community—such as civic or citizenship knowledge and skills

1.1 European Union

The European Reference Framework sets out eight key competences, which are given below:
  1. Communication in the mother tongue
  2. Communication in foreign languages
  3. Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology
  4. Digital competence
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Social and civic competences
  7. Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship
  8. Cultural awareness and expression
The key competences are all considered equally important, because each of them can contribute to a successful life in a knowledge society. Many of the competences overlap and interlock: aspects essential to one domain will support competence in another. Competence in the fundamental basic skills of language, literacy, numeracy and in information and communication technologies (ICT) is an essential foundation for learning, and learning to learn supports all learning activities.
There are a number of themes that are applied throughout the Reference Framework: critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem-solving, risk assessment, decision-taking, and constructive management of feelings play a role in all eight key competences.

1.2 United States

In the US, the Report of The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991, defined what it was called “workplace know-how” which comprised a set of four workplace competencies:
  1. Resources: Time, Money, Materials and Facilities, Human Resources
  2. Interpersonal: Participates as a Member of a Team, Teaches Others New Skills, Serves Clients/Customers, Exercises Leadership, Negotiates, Works with Diversity
  3. Information: Acquires and Uses Information, Organizes and Maintains Information, Interprets and Communicates Information, Uses Computers to Process Information
  4. Systems: Understands Systems, Monitors and Corrects Performance, Improves or Designs Systems, Selects Technology, Applies Technology to Tasks, Maintains and Troubleshoots Equipment

and three foundation elements:

  1. Basic Skills: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic/Mathematics, Listening, Speaking
  2. Thinking Skills: Creative Thinking, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Seeing Things in the Mind’s Eye, Knowing How to Learn, Reasoning.
  3. Personal Qualities: Responsibility, Self Esteem, Sociability, Self-Management, Integrity/Honesty

1.3 England and Wales

For the last 15 years there has been a series of policy initiatives that have advocated for the development of employability skills by young and unemployed people. The call for these employability skills has been championed by two distinct but related movements:
  1. Key Skills Development Movement
  2. Enterprising Skills Development/Education Movement

The Secretary of State for Education and Employment introduced a ‘Key Skills National Qualification’ that focused upon:

  1. Effective communication—including written skills
  2. Application of numbers—the ability to work with numbers
  3. The use of information technology

These skills are further defined as the ‘wider key skills’, and they are:

  1. Working with others—how you work with others when planning and carrying out activities to get things done and achieve shared objectives,
  2. Improve own learning and performance—how you manage your own personal learning and career development,
  3. Problem solving—about recognizing problems and doing something about them.

1.4 Canada

In the early 1990s the Conference Board of Canada developed an Employability Skills Profile that identified the generic academic, personal management and teamwork skills that are required, to varying degrees, in every job. Three broad domains of employability skills were identified:
  1. Academic skills
  2. Personal management
  3. Teamwork skills
The Conference Board reviewed the work of the 1992 Essential Skills project recommendations and published Employability Skills 2000+ framework, which is outlined below.
  1. Fundamental skills: (Communicate, Manage information, Use numbers, Think & solve problems)
  2. Personal management skills: (Demonstrate positive attitudes and behaviours, Be responsible, Be adaptable, Learn continuously, Work safely)
  3. Teamwork skills: (Work with others, Participate in projects & tasks)

1.5 Australia

The Mayer Committee offered a clear recognition of the importance of generic skills and has played a significant role in the development of government policy in this area, most particularly in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. The Mayer Committee proposed the following key competencies:
  1. Collecting, analyzing and organizing information
  2. Communicating ideas and information
  3. Planning and organizing activities
  4. Working with others and in teams
  5. Using mathematical ideas and techniques
  6. Solving problems
  7. Using technology
The taxonomy suggested in the employability skills report consisted of 13 personal attributes and 8 key skills, as follows:
  • Personal Attributes: Loyalty, Commitment, Honesty and integrity, Enthusiasm, Reliability, Personal presentation, Common sense, Positive self-esteem, Sense of humor, Balanced attitude to work and home life, Ability to deal with pressure, Motivation, and Adaptability.
  • Key Skills: Communication skills, Team work skills, Problem-solving skills, Planning and organising skills, Self-management skills, Learning skills, and Technology skills.

1.6 The OECD DeSeCo project

The DeSeCo project (The Definition and Selection of Competencies) was an OECD project developed under the umbrella of the Indicators of National Education Systems (INES) project (Rychen & Salganik, 2003), set out to establish sound and broadly based theoretical conceptions of competencies.
It recognized that the various national attempts to develop definitions of generic skills can be characterized as:
  1. Boosting productivity and market competitiveness;
  2. Developing an adaptive and qualified labour force; and
  3. Creating an environment for innovation in a world dominated by global competition.
Although the primary intention of the DeSeCo project was to develop methods for assessing and measuring competences from multidisciplinary perspectives, it only focused upon the definition of them and did not develop any.


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