Soft skills

What are soft skills and why are they important?

Soft skills, also known as employability or transferable skills, are described as the ‘personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people’. They’re the non-academic, non-technical skills – the attributes and attitude that can influence how successful you are in your personal and working lives.

Someone with soft skills will generally be confident and self-assured but also self-aware and empathetic. They could be described as being good at:

– Communicating with others

– Working in a team

– Taking the lead when required

– Managing their time effectively

– Showing initiative and drive

– Keeping a commitment

– Taking responsibility

– Being resilient despite knockbacks

– Keeping focused and positive

– Problem-solving, decision making and dealing with the consequences

Why are they important?

Soft skills are important in all elements of life, from building strong friendships to managing personal finances. However, they’re especially important in the world of work.

Employers hugely value candidates who are able to demonstrate that they have these skills that make them ‘work-ready’. They want conscientious, trustworthy and driven employees who create positive, can-do, collegial working environments and, at the end of the day, help the company or organisation achieve its objectives.

Yes, most roles will still have essential academic and technical criteria, but soft skills are becoming equally as important – when applying for a job alongside candidates with similar academic results or technical skills, being able to demonstrate that you have soft skills will give you the edge. And by demonstration we don’t just mean how you conduct yourself during the interview (although that is of course vitally important!) – you also need to be able to give evidence of having soft skills by talking through experiences where you gained them.

How does your DofE help you develop soft skills?

You may not realise it, but your DofE programme has helped or is helping you to develop soft skills – it’s often only when someone points out how confident or determined you’ve become that you notice.

Each section of your DofE nurtures a different combination of soft skills – for example, to complete your Expedition section you need to be able to work in a team but also be self-sufficient and organised.

See the list below to identify the type of skills you’ve gained or are gaining.


– Reliable

– Time management

– Self-motivation

– Compassion/caring for others

– Supporting the local community

– Position of responsibility

– Understanding of strengths and weaknesses

– Communication with others


– Development of social and practical skills

– Increased confidence and self-esteem

– Ability to learn new things

– Working with others

– Commitment

– Meet new challenges


– Improved physical health and wellbeing

– Working towards a goal

– Developing an interest

– Working with others

– Recognising achievement

– Meeting a challenge

– Skill development and coordination

– Understanding of rules and safety

– Reflecting on progress


– Teamwork

– Problem solving

– Decision making

– Leadership

– Self-sufficient

– Organised

– Awareness of safety and recognising hazards

– Dealing with unexpected challenges

– Achievement of shared goals

Residential (Gold level only)

– Confidence in an unfamiliar environment

– Ability to meet new people and build new relationships

– Accept responsibility for self and others

– Develop respect and understanding for others

– Develop skills and attitudes to live and work with others

If you’d like to find out how the skills you’ve gained through your DofE, plus your interests and personality traits, match up with a range of job roles, check out Barclays LifeSkills Wheel of Strengths. Through the Wheel, get inspired and discover job roles you didn’t know existed, that could be perfect for you.

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