Examining relationships between soft skills and occupational outcomes among US adults with – and without – university degrees
Policymakers are increasingly concerned that employees need both foundational skills, such as numeracy, and soft skills to take better advantage of new technologies and adapt to changing work. In this study, we examined the relationships between the use of soft skills and occupational outcomes among a nationally representative sample of adult workers in the United States. Based on our analysis of PIAAC data, we found that even after accounting for numeracy skill and university degrees, there were positive, statistically significant relationships between the use of soft skills (i.e. Readiness to Learn; Influence; Planning; and Task Discretion) and workers’ occupational outcomes. Our findings also suggested that, relative to university graduates, adult workers without university degrees tend to have higher occupational status if they more frequently exercise soft skills.