Study Posits Direct Link Between Soft Skills, Productivity

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Feb 14, 2018

A recent study has found that Indian garment workers who received soft skills training were more productive than those who did not, suggesting a direct link between the two phenomena, according to Quartz. The study, undertaken by a team of researchers from Harvard, Boston College and University of Michigan, looked at 3,000 garment workers in five different factories for Gap in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. Specifically, it compared the 1,087 workers who were randomly selected to receive soft skills training to the remainder who did not. The eight week training course taught things like time management, communication, problem solving and financial literacy. What they found was that these workers were 11 percent more productive than they were before starting the course, and 20 percent more productive than the control group that didn't receive any training at all (productivity in this case being defined as quantity of pieces they produced on the factory line). They were able to complete simple tasks more quickly, and were more likely to be assigned to more complex jobs. The study also observed a spillover effect, where the workers who didn't get training still became more productive through learning from the women who did. 

The paper notes that this increased productivity was good for the factory owners but the workers saw only a 0.5 percent increase in wages as a result. 

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