Good Communication Highlighted As Valuable Skill For Graduates

SMEs Place High Value On Communication Among Recruits

18.08.2014

Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

The majority of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) regard communication skills as being a key attribute for new recruits, a new survey has revealed.

A poll by Marbella International University Centre (MIUC) of 810 SMEs found this particular 'soft skill' was valued by 69 per cent of respondents.

This was one of a number of attributes employers said they wanted that were not specifically represented by certificates and qualifications.

Other popular skills included the ability to use their own initiative (favoured by 57 per cent), while 52 per cent wanted team-building skills. Time management was an issue for half of respondents, while 46 per cent valued creative thinking and 40 per cent liked strong presentation skills.

When it came to the use of technology, basic IT was important for 43 per cent, while 32 per cent wanted advanced IT skills.

Notably, only ten per cent saw a foreign language as a key skill, although there was some geographical variation in this finding. In London, the figure was 13 per cent, which may suggest more SMEs in the capital are involved in exporting goods and services, or providing local services to people for whom English is not their mother tongue.

The SME picture is not necessary typical of companies in general, observed visiting professor at MIUC Dr Erika Polson. She said: "Certain soft skills were also more highly-prized among respondents from larger companies.

"Today's graduates are entering a highly-competitive job market, making the ability to demonstrate these skills vital."

For SMEs, it may be wise to offer potential graduates the chance to undertake tests at the recruitment stage to prove they have these skills, not least as it could help uncover attributes that may not have been included on CVs.

Finding such skills may be harder for SMEs as unemployment falls and the number of vacancies increases, reducing the supply of skilled staff at a time when competition for such candidates is increasing.

Official statistics show the UK unemployment rate dropped by 132,000 in the three months to the end of June to 2.08 million.

Expert Opinion
This study provides an interesting insight into the core skills that SME employers believe to be vital for new members of staff. For many small businesses, recruitment provides not only a chance to increase numbers within a workforce, but also an opportunity to diversify and bring on board new talent and skills which will help organisations to take the next step in their development and growth.

"Getting people with the right skills into a business is hugely important, but it is equally important that responsible employers do what they can to help staff to settle into their company’s ethos and understand that is expected of them. Having the right policies in place, alongside retention tools including benefits, can be a useful step towards ensuring this is the case.

"SMEs should speak to legal experts for advice and support on how to meet their compliance responsibilities in the area of recruitment and what other employment strategies they can use to ensure that new additions develop and thrive in their organisation."
Fergal Dowling, Partner