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The effect of soft skills on graduate pay




Drawing on a study based on a sample of master's graduates who responded to Céreq's Génération 2010 survey and were questioned again in 2014, the authors have tried to construct indicators of soft skills and then to measure the effects those skills have on salaries. It would appear that soft skills explain part of the pay of young master's graduates from business and engineering schools. They particularly influence the highest salaries, which suggests these soft skills are particularly important for the most highly skilled jobs.


  • Even though the level of qualification and the subject studied still have an influence on young people's salaries, perseverance, self-esteem, risk-taking and communication skills also have an effect on pay when numerous educational and social variables are controlled for (cf. Table 7 in theNet.doc149 publication).


  • On the other hand, an analysis by salary level shows that the effect is generally greater at the upper end of the pay distribution, which suggests these skills play an important role in determining access to the most highly skilled jobs.


  • It should be noted that the converse tends to be the case for the other variables. Obtaining a master's degree or having professional experience tend to have the greatest effects at the lower end of the pay distribution.


  • On the other hand, the effect of soft skills at the top end of the pay distribution tends to be similar to that of other variables, whether they be educational (distinction or honours in the baccalaureate) or social (father's occupation).


The authors conclude, in their article entitled L'effet des soft-skills sur la rémunération des diplômés/The effect of soft skills on graduate pay, that it is as if there are two types of labour market for graduates. The first provides access to higher-skill, better paid jobs but requires various cognitive and non-cognitive skills and networks in addition to a degree, whereas the second offers less well paid jobs but ones in which the objective components of human capital, such as degree and experience, are much more protective.


Read more (text in French)

L'effet des soft-skills sur la rémunération des diplômés

Ines Albandea, Jean-François Giret

Net.Doc n°149, janvier 2016, 31 p.