thinking space

Soft skills

Young people equipped with entrepreneurship skills are better able to navigate the challenges of our rapidly changing job market.  To thrive in today’s globalised digital economy and in the future, young entrepreneurs need not just ‘hard’, business and digital skills, and sector specific technical knowledge, but also the ‘soft’ skills that shape how an individual interacts with others and achieves their goals. There is growing consensus on the importance of soft skills but limited guidance on what they are or how to develop them.

Entrepreneurial soft skills are those skills, competencies, behaviours, attitudes, personal qualities, motives, and thought processes that enable aspiring or practicing entrepreneurs to perform well and achieve their goals, work well with others, and effectively navigate their environment, while creating, running, and growing their businesses. Entrepreneurial soft skills also encompass those skills that distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs, such as “ability to identify and exploit opportunities without regard to the resources currently under their control”. The Thinking Space Papers in this section look at research on soft skills and present programmes and tool to enhance them.

Thinking Space Paper No.18: Entrepreneurial Soft Skills


In 2019, Youth Business International launched the research ‘Entrepreneurial Soft Skills for the Future: a scoping study’. The research has been commissioned to guide us in developing a new soft skills training provision, and to contribute to the wider debate. It draws on an extensive literature review; a survey and interviews with Youth business International (YBI) members; and interviews and informal conversations with entrepreneurship experts outside of YBI. The research presents a new entrepreneurial soft skills framework that outlines four categories of skills: intra- and interpersonal; create and solve; information, opportunity and risk management; and growth mindset.  Each skill group includes a number of today’s skills and future skills that should be considered in any entrepreneurship support programme.

Thinking Space Paper No.19: Entrepreneurial Soft Skills – 12 practical exercises


Based on the results of the ‘Entrepreneurial Soft Skills for the Future: a scoping study’, this paper presents 12 practical exercises to enhance identified future skills in the framework of enterprise support programmes. This includes exercises on a positive self-concept, emotional and social intelligence, persuasion and negotiation, working with others, ideasation and creative thinking, decision making, action focus, VUCA skills, maximising opportunities, future orientation, grid and agility.

Thinking Space Paper No.29: The Persuasion Principles in a NEET Context






This Thinking Space Paper describes how coaches can use the six principles of persuasion, developed by Robert Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing. The paper gives clues on how to influence the decision-making process of beneficiaries leading to an improved cooperation for of labour market integration.

Thinking Space Paper No.38: Reducing self-doubts of NEETs


The lack of self-confidence is destructive for NEETs and (re-)gaining it can be difficult, especially for those who have faced major setbacks in their lives. If young people do not believe in themselves and their own potential, it will be far more difficult to integrate them into the labour market. The good news is that NEETs can work on themselves to reduce self-doubts. This paper shares some best practices and ideas on how to support NEETs to gain trust in themselves and self-respect.