Soft skills as a way out of vulnerability: a study on Italian youth in rural areas

Adriano Mauro Ellena*, Daniela Marzana, Sara Maria Martinez Damia, Maura Pozzi, Elena Marta

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroContributo a convegno


Aims While technology makes it possible to achieve great results in the area of innovation, soft skills are those characteristics that enable a company to be truly competitive because they are most useful in enhancing productivity at work. Therefore, enlightened employers are looking for "talent," that is, people who, in addition to having the technical skills, have transversal and interpersonal skills called soft skills. Soft skills, concern personal qualities, attitude in the work environment and interpersonal abilities. They are, therefore, those individual inclinations that enable to understand others, including emotions and feelings. These skills are much more difficult to acquire and also to measure than the technical ones. According to this, the current abstract presents several objectives. The first is to introduce a new measurement scale (in the process of validation) that can give insights into the assessment of soft skills, tested on a representative sample. The second objective is to see how soft skills overall and their respective subscales perform in the different populations of both NEET and non-NEET and rural-urban. The last goal aims to investigate whether and how these variables may impact psychological well-being. Theoretical approach Many definitions of soft skills exist in the literature. A first distinction can be made between Self-oriented/Intrapsychic and Other-oriented/ Interpersonal skills. The first category refers to what the person must understand and develop by her/himself; the second category gathers what the person can develop by relating with other people (Cimatti 2016). This distinction can also be made in terms of Personal and Social Skills. Personal Skills mainly correspond to cognitive skills, such as knowledge and thinking skills, whilst social skills refer to relationships with other people. Let us consider some: a knowledge skill is the capability of elaborating information; a thinking skill is the ability of exercising critical judgment; personal skills are the capacity and desire to continue to learn and the ability to plan and achieve goals; main social skills can be identified in communication, listening capability, negotiation, networking, problem solving, decision making and assertiveness (Engelberg 2015). The debate on the topic of soft skills has persisted for a long time, and there are a variety of organizations and scholars in different countries that have intervened to identify which sub-categories are among the most important and informative (see Touloumakos, 2020). Following a theoretical subdivision that considered the review of the literature, a CFA was performed and the reliability of the subscales as well as so of the overall scale was also measured. In addition, the topic of soft skills has increasingly become the focus of NEETs research. Soft skills are essential for both entering and remaining in the labour market. Various researchers have already accentuated and focused on how NEETs in general possess lower levels of soft skills than their non-NEET peers (Marta 2012; Marzana and Poy 2019) as well as psychological well-being. Furthermore, it is evident how urban and rural contexts are very different, with the latter lacking both training and employment opportunities. Living conditions are indeed diverse, and this can only have an impact upon NEETs (Simoes et al., 2017). Given the literature described above, which shows a lack regarding the comparison of these groups in rural and urban areas, it was also decided to assess how soft skills impacted these groups. Methodology This study involves the secondary analysis of data collected by the Osservatorio Giovani of the Istituto Toniolo di Studi Superiori (Milan, Italy) in 2020. Since 2012, the Osservatorio conducts yearly computer-assisted web interview (CAWI) surveys regarding topics related to young people, such as the social and economic inclusion of people that are Not in Employment, Education, or Training (
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteBrescia International Conference ‘22 PROCEEDINGS
Numero di pagine3
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2023
Evento1st International Conference Rural Youth and the New Youth Guarantee - Brescia
Durata: 14 mar 202314 mar 2023


Convegno1st International Conference Rural Youth and the New Youth Guarantee


  • Aree rurali
  • Giovani
  • Neets
  • Soft Skills
  • Vulnerabilità


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