Development of diverse jobseekers’ soft skills through public employment services: a future-facing perspective

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
With the changing employment environment of increasing global competition, many jobseekers will require reskilling to get employed in the next ten years. Yet, there is little academic research on how jobseekers should be supported in their soft skill development to prepare them for the skill requirements of future working life. This research aims at providing a more profound understanding of the role of soft skills in the future employment market and how the soft skill development of diverse jobseekers could be supported through co-designing employment services. I undertake a three-level analysis (individual, organizational, and ecosystem level) of the Finnish employment market. The analysis combines, through the co-design process of Espoo’s future employment services, the key actor groups in the employment market. These actor are future jobseekers, companies as future employers, and the City of Espoo as an employment service provider. The three-level analysis enables studying possible joint actions between the key actors in strengthening an inclusive work environment by supporting the soft skill development of diverse jobseekers. The results indicate the importance of making the need for soft skills visible at the level of the entire ecosystem of the employment market. In this way, more equal and inclusive employment opportunities can be offered. A successful co-design process can shift the focus of designing future employment services toward a ‘learning perspective’ of diversity. This perspective recognizes the role of soft skills in the future and the support for jobseekers’ soft skill development tailored to their specific needs. Soft skill training prepares future jobseekers for changes in working life. Soft skill training should be extensive since diverse jobseekers require outside support and guidance not only in developing their soft skills but also identifying those skills. Additionally, encouraging diverse jobseekers to develop the crucial interpersonal skills for getting employed in the future, requires an inclusive environment at the level of the entire ecosystem of the employment market. The study was conducted as a qualitative single-case study of the employment services of the city of Espoo from a future-facing perspective. A future-facing perspective means that the investigated phenomenon is set in the future. In this instance, investigating the role of soft skills ten years from now. As the studied phenomenon was set in the future, the study also indicates service design tools assisting in imagining organizational solutions to future challenges. The data was collected through a collaborative research project entitled ‘Employment and Economy 2032’ between Aalto University and the City of Espoo. The project took place in March-May 2022. The project was led by doctoral researcher Annukka Svanda.
Thesis advisor
Piekkari, Rebecca
diverse jobseekers, soft skill development, inclusive employment market, co-designing employment services, future-facing perspective
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