Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #728 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

This article takes some information from the article by Maria Guadalupe and Bryan Ng. The link appears below.

Our CVs, Interview forms, and Appraisal forms always have a space for soft skills. Our inventory of soft skills is usually limited to communication, interpersonal relations, teamwork, and we toss in integrity (which is not a skill)  to make it more worthwhile. We maintain that soft skills are required by the employees to grow in their career. However, we do not link the presence of soft skills to the success of corporate. Probably, one major reason for this line of thinking is that most corporates do not give due importance to employees and believe that their success is due to shrewd handling of the business owners.

I would like to quote from a research done by Maria Guadalupe and Bryan Ng of INSEAD, which shows the relationship between soft skills and productivity.

[Quote] In France, 60 percent of employers consider soft skills, such as the ability to organize, adapt and work in teams, to be more important than technical competencies. However, France is far behind other developed economies when it comes to its stock of soft skills.

To estimate France’s soft skills deficit, we ranked 18 developed countries using data from the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). The results indicated that France has the third-lowest average level of soft skills, ranking just above Germany and Japan. The United States, Czech Republic and Denmark took the top three spots.

Furthermore, this skill gap was as prevalent among highly educated individuals as those who have not attended university, implying that France’s soft skills deficit is not limited to certain education groups.

France’s lack of soft skills is not just an issue among its adult population. Another OECD survey found that French school students are less persevering, less efficient in problem solving and exhibit lower levels of internal locus of control relative to their American, German, and Northern European counterparts. Prior research has shown that the French education system fails to develop collectiveness and collaboration amongst students. [Unquote]

Soft Skills have been becoming increasingly more important for the last fifty years or so; the reason is the sharp rise in jobs that require such skills, for example management positions, complex operations, elaborate financial models, large operational teams, decentralization, and evolution of human resource management. No longer a person can work in isolation, except may be writing poetry or making a painting; even composing a song is teamwork.

We know that during the last several years, manual, labor-intensive jobs were shifted to China, Vietnam, India, Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. In fact, any country with large population and high poverty level could qualify for becoming the sweatshop for the developed world. Many of these countries supported their economies with this and built up their own industries/ businesses meanwhile. The developed countries shifted focus to technology, research, and services; from medical treatments to cryptocurrencies, all are services.

In Pakistan, we have three major issues facing us vis-à-vis soft skills development and emphasis.

One, our poor literacy rate undermines our reading skills and habits. We have therefore resorted to excessive use of social media which requires minimal amount of intelligence. The meteoric rise of TikTok has happened in countries like Pakistan, where everyone is trying to do some stupid stunt to become viral. Additionally, mainstream politics has gone digital; Twitter being the most favorite place of the majority who left Facebook because it had become too ordinary. With the introduction of Urdu text on digital media, the language of trolls and stalkers is so much below ethics, morals, and manners, that it has become a matter of shame for us as a nation.

Two, the jobs in government sector are rife with corruption in hiring, career advancement, plum postings, bribery and its distribution across the chain of command, and zero emphasis on performance. The question of soft or hard skills is left out. Among private sector corporates, there is some talk about soft skills, training and development to enhance such skills, inclusion of soft skills in the appraisals, and insistence on acquiring and polishing these skill. It is not universal across all corporates; in fact, it is in a minority of organizations. The majority does not appreciate soft skills from top to bottom. The language used by owners of shops, industrial units, service industries, and businesses leaves decency at the drop of a dime. The insults are personal and cruel, and the trend is carried downwards by seniors. It should be understood that soft skills do not find much space here.

Three, the environment at homes and schools has changed. Children are neglected by parents at home for multiple reasons; economic pressures, large families, poverty, affluence, maid-culture, women-at-work, poor home environment, fights between parents, women abuse by husbands, broken homes, and much else. At school, the teachers are expected to groom the children in every way, which they cannot do. The teachers’ own soft skills may not be developed and she/he cannot develop these in the children. Children are exposed to digital media at a very tender age when they cannot differentiate between good and bad, desirable and undesirable. So, they learn most of the undesirable behaviors. When they display these behaviors at home, these may go unnoticed, or may get a soft reprimand, or may even be celebrated as it is done in certain households. The economic disparity pushes majority of the children to small, private, street schools or government schools. Small private schools are only marginally better than government ones. The assessment, inculcation, and development of soft skills is not in the syllabus.

There are many reasons for low productivity in Pakistan which can be discussed separately. The poverty of soft skills is among major factors but is not getting the attention it deserves.


Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.

Leave a Reply