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McDonald’s UK and James Caan lead coalition calling for re-evaluation of soft skills, worth £88bn to UK PLC

14 January 2015


McDonald’s UK and James Caan lead coalition calling for re-evaluation of soft skills, worth £88bn to UK PLC
  • Research reveals soft skills – such as communication, teamwork and time management – worth £88bn to the UK economy
  • 97% of UK employers highlight the importance of soft skills to commercial success
  • By 2020, more than half a million workers will be held back by a lack of soft skills
McDonald’s UK today launches a new campaign to drive recognition and promotion of soft skills – such as communication and interpersonal skills, teamwork, and time- and self-management – as, for the first time, research demonstrates the £88 billion contribution these skills make to the UK economy.

Backed by entrepreneur James Caan CBE and leading organisations including the CBI, National Youth Agency, LearnDirect and Barclays, McDonald’s is calling for a whole-scale re-evaluation of the value of soft skills.

Through the campaign, McDonald’s and the coalition of supporters will invite businesses, policy experts, campaign groups, trade associations and academics to help create and share new ways to recognise and improve soft skills in the workplace. A three-month consultation opens today, and the findings and a series of long-term recommendations will be published later in 2015.

New research highlights potential consequences of failure to take action
New economic research commissioned by McDonald’s to inform the campaign reveals that soft skills contribute £88 billion to the UK economy today. The report, produced by Development Economics, forecasts that this will increase to £109 billion during the next five years.

The research also highlights a series of early warning signs that employers, government and educators are not currently supporting soft skills sufficiently to realise their potential contribution. According to the economists, over half a million UK workers will be significantly held back by a lack of soft skills by 20201 – an issue forecast to affect all sectors. Accommodation, food services, retail and healthcare industries are named as those most at risk.

UK employers and workers echo this anxiety about the future. Whilst 97 per cent of employers believe soft skills are important to their current business success – and more than half rate them more highly than academic qualifications – three-quarters believe there is already a soft skills gap in the UK workforce.2

Meanwhile, UK employees say they struggle to sell their soft skills. One in five would not feel confident describing their soft skills to an employer and more than half (54 per cent) have never included soft skills on their CV.3

Jez Langhorn, Chief People Officer, McDonald’s UK & Northern Europe, said:
“Soft skills like communication and teamwork are incredibly important to our business because of the impact they can have on our customers’ experience. As integral as they are to the performance and progression of our employees, I know that we can do more to recognise their importance which is why we are launching this campaign. In conjunction with James Caan, and a wide range of businesses and organisations I want to find ways in which we can better recognise soft skills and I’m calling on others to join us in re-evaluating and improving these skills.”

Consultation to create practical ways to resolve the soft skills gap
McDonald’s has invited entrepreneur James Caan CBE to jointly lead a three-month consultation on current practices and attitudes towards soft skills. People can find out more and take part at The consultation will result in a series of recommendations published later in the year to improve, support and promote soft skills in the workplace.

Businessman and entrepreneur, James Caan CBE, commented:
“Soft skills matter – to individuals, to businesses, and to the wider UK economy. Part of the success in my journey wasn’t about my qualifications or experience, but it was the value I gave to soft skills that helped me get to where I am today.”

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills said:
“Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people - such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity - is just as important as academic or technical skills. In an ever more competitive jobs market it is such qualities that will give our young talent a head start and also allow existing employees to progress to higher skilled, better paid roles.”

Fiona Blacke, CEO at the National Youth Agency said:
"Those of us who work with young people know that often what stops them achieving their potential and making successful transitions to adult life is not formal academic qualifications. Without the capacity to work with others, to communicate effectively and appropriately, to manage their emotions and channel their energy, to problem solve and perhaps most importantly to have resilience so when things go wrong they can learn from it and pick themselves up and carry on, young people struggle to secure work and be proactive members of their communities.

“We are delighted to be supporting McDonald’s, one of the most powerful youth brands, in encouraging everyone be they business, government or civil society to play their part in equipping young people with the soft skills they need to succeed.”

Full story here.


1. Development Economics, January 2015.
2. YouGov Plc, September 2014.
3. YouGov Plc, September 2014.

Media enquiries please contact:
McDonald’s press office – 020 8700 7320
Blue Rubicon – 020 7260 2700 /

Notes to Editors

About soft skills

McDonald’s defines soft skills as:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork
  • Time- and self-management
  • Decision-making and initiative-taking
  • Taking responsibility

Coalition members:

  • Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
  • Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD)
  • Federation of Small Business (FSB)
  • National Youth Agency (NYA)
  • Plotr
  • Gelder
  • Association of Colleges
  • LearnDirect
  • City & Guilds
  • Work Foundation
  • LifeSkills presented by Barclays
  • Ginsters
  • People 1st
  • Impetus Trust
  • EdComs
  • Prospects

About McDonald’s UK
McDonald’s has run its business in the UK since 1974 and currently operates just over 1,200 restaurants across the UK. McDonald’s has a proven track record of investing in the development of employees and offering opportunities and flexibility to its people.

McDonald’s is one of the largest private sector employers in the UK and has a track record in recognising and promoting soft skills at every stage in career development. Employees are regularly assessed on communication, teamwork and time management. Excellence in these skills is a key consideration in formal appraisals, progression and promotion

  • McDonald’s is one of the UK’s largest private sector employers, employing just over 100,000 people. It is estimated to provide 70,000 jobs to young people aged 16-25, making it one of the largest employers of young people in the UK.
  • McDonald's invests over £40 million in training each year and offers all employees the opportunity to gain a wide range of nationally-recognised qualifications while they work, including an Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeship in Hospitality and Catering, a Level 3 Diploma in Shift Management and a Foundation Degree in Managing Business Operations.
  • McDonald’s is one of the UK’s largest apprenticeship providers, and was awarded a Grade 2 (good) Ofsted rating, with several areas Graded 1 (outstanding) for its Apprenticeship Programme, just 18 months after it was launched.
  • Since 2006, over 63,000 qualifications have been gained by employees across McDonald’s UK.
  • McDonald’s was recognised in this year’s Best Multinational Companies to Work For in the World, coming in 14th position, and has been recognised by the Great Place to Work® Institute since 2001.
  • In 2014 McDonald’s UK was ranked in The Sunday Times ‘25 Best Big Companies’ list for the fourth consecutive year, achieving 7th position. For the first time, McDonald’s was also recognised in the top ten of Management Today’s Britain’s Most Admired Companies.
  • In the same year, McDonald’s collected a gold award at the Mumsnet Family Friendly awards in recognition for its family friendly working policies and customer service and won two awards at the Personnel Today awards which recognise excellence in human resources sector.
About Development Economics
Development Economics Ltd provides robust economics and demographics research, market analysis and strategy advice for private and public sector clients. Led by professionals with over 20 years’ experience of developing strategies for businesses and public sector clients, the company possesses expertise in undertaking economic impact assessments, feasibility studies, workforce development and regeneration strategies.

Commissioned by McDonald’s, Economics Consultancy Development Economics undertook extensive research to model the current value of soft skills to the UK economy and to project what level they could reach by 2020 and 2025. The report was published today (14 January 2015). More details on the methodology and the full report is available on request.

YouGov surveys among UK employers and UK workers
Survey of UK employers: Conducted by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 669 senior managers and above in businesses with 2+ employees. Fieldwork was undertaken 15th-19th September 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of GB Business size excluding sole traders.

Survey of UK workers: Conducted by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,350 adults, of which 2,180 are employed. Fieldwork was undertaken 17th-19th September 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). 

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