Weedon, Elisabet and Tett, Lyn (2013) Plugging a gap? Soft skills courses and learning for work. International Journal of Lifelong Education. pp. 1-18. ISSN 0260-1370

Governments across Europe have been encouraged by the European Union (EU) to take measures to upskill their workforce to ensure growth and social inclusion. Low-skilled workers are particular targets and learning providers and employers are expected to provide learning opportunities for them. However, research shows that those with low skills often lack confidence and require support to engage in learning. This paper examines an European Structural Funds (ESF)-funded course aimed at developing soft skills in low-skilled employees through a course developed by a Scottish college. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with learners from two cohorts of the course to examine their experiences and gains from the course. Learners’ accounts demonstrate benefits from the course but workplace culture impacted on the level of gains. The paper questions the ability of one-off courses to deliver the aims of policy and suggests more coordinated and sustained effort is required.

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