Survey: People skills valued over those for IT

Microsoft-commissioned survey of execs finds ability to communicate with co-workers is regarded as more important than tech skills.

Interpersonal skills are more important in the workplace than IT skills, according to the results of a survey commissioned by Microsoft.

In the survey of approximately 500 board-level executives, 61 percent said interpersonal and teamworking skills were more important than IT skills.

However, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said that while communication skills are important, IT skills now permeated every level and type of job. "One of the most important changes of the past 30 years is that digital technology has transformed almost everyone into an information worker," said Gates in a statement. "In almost every job now, people use software and work with information to enable their organization to operate more effectively."

But Gates also acknowledged the value of people skills. "Communication skills and the ability to work well with different types of people are very important too," he said. "Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs."

Most of the executives questioned felt interpersonal skills would continue to be more important than IT skills in the future. But many felt IT skills would become more important, with 24 percent saying IT would become the most important skill in the workplace within the next 10 years.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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