The Relationship between Soft Skills Training and Development, Human Resource Outcome and Firm Performance

  • Bee-Lan Lok Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
  • Ming-Yu Cheng Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
  • Chee-Keong Choong Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
Keywords: Soft Skills, Training and Development, Human Resource Outcome, Firm Performance


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of soft skills training and development on human resource outcome and firm performance. Data were collected from 199 manufacturers in Malaysia using questionnaire survey method and analysed using ‘structural equation modelling’ methodology. The results indicated that the relationship between soft skills training and development and firm performance is fully mediated by the human resource outcomes. This study highlights the indirect contribution of soft skills training and development on firm performance via its impacts on human resource outcome.


Aulbur, W., Arvind, C. J. & Bigghe, R. (2016). Skill Development for Industry 4.0 (White Paper). Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), & Roland Berger (RB). Retrieved from

Barba Aragón, M.I., Jiménez Jiménez, D., & Sans Valle, R. (2013). Training and performance: The mediating role of organisational learning. Business Research Quarterly, 17(3), 161-173.

Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99-120.

Becker, G. S. (1993). Human Capital A theoretical and empirical analysis, with special reference to education (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bertolini, S. & Goglio, V. (2017). The demand for qualified personnel: a case study on Northern Italy. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning 7(1), 51-69.

Bhal, R. S. (2015). Training in soft skills and its importance. International Journal Management and Social Sciences Research, 4(5), 76-81.

Botke, J. A., Jansen, P. G. W., Khapova, S. N., & Tims, M. (2018). Work factors influencing the transfer stages of soft skills training: A literature review. Educational Research Review 24, 130-147.

Cesário, F., & Chambel, M. J. (2017). A previous trainee experience: does it matter for retention of young graduates? International Journal of Organisational Analysis, 25(2), 270-281.

Chin, W. W. (1998). The partial least squares approach to structural equation modeling. Modern Methods for Business Research, 295(2), 295-336.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). (2017). Human Capital Theory: assessing the evidence for the value and importance of people to organisational success. Retrieved from

Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155-159.

Das, R., & Kodwani, A. D. (2018). Strategic human resource management: a power based critique. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 25(4), 1213-1231.

Department of Statistics, Malaysia (DOSM) (2019). Employed Persons by Industry, Malaysia, 1982-2019. Labour Force Survey (LFS) Time Series Statistics by industry, 1982-2019. Retrieved from id=bnk3bk0wTTkxOXVHaVg3SUFDMlBUUT09

Economist Corporate Network (2016). Skills 4.0 How CEOs Shape the Future of Work in Asia. Retrieved from shape+the+future+of+work+in+Asia+ECN.pdf/a4072bed-69c4-e674-934b-b62aa1102 6d4?t=1582185785452

Economic Planning Unit (2020). Second Malaysia Plan, 1971-1975. Chapter 7 Employment by sector, West Malaysia 1965-1970. Retrieved from /en/economic-developments/development-plans/rmk/second-malaysia-plan-1971-1975

Elnaga, A., & Imran, A. (2013). The effect of training on employee performance. European Journal of Business and Management, 5(4), 137-147.

Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research 18(1), 39-50.

Grugulis, I., & Vincent, S. (2009). Whose skill is it anyway? Soft skills and polarization. Work, Employment & Society, 23(4), 597-615.

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate Data Analysis (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Hair, J. F. Jr., Hult, G. T. M., Ringle, C. M., & Sarstedt, M. (2014). A Priemer on Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM). California: SAGE publications.

Hughey, A. W., & Mussnug, K. J. (1997). Designing effective employee Programmes. Training for Quality, 5(2), 52-57.

Ibrahim, R., Boerhannoeddin, A., & Bakare, K. K. (2017). The effect of soft skills and training methodology on employee performance. European Journal of Training and Development, 41(4), 388-406.

International Youth Foundation (2013). Getting Youth in the Door: Defining Soft Skills Requirements for Entry-Level Service Sector Jobs. Retrieved from

Iqbal, M. Z., Maharvi, M. W., Malik, S. A., & Khan, M. M. (2011). An empirical analysis of the relationship between characteristics and formative evaluation of training. International Business Research, 4(1), 273-286.

Institute of Student Employers (ISE) (2018). The Global Skills Gap in the 21st Century. Retrieved from

Katou, A. A. (2011). Test of a causal human resource management – performance linkage model: evidence from the Greek manufacturing sector. International Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, 6(1), 17-29.

Kessler, A. S., & Lülfesmann (2006). The Theory of Human Capital revisited: on the interaction of general and specific investments. The Economic Journal, 116(October), 903-923.

Kucherov, D., & Manokhina, D. (2017). Evaluation of training programs in Russian manufacturing companies. European Journal of Training and Development, 41(2), 119-143.

Kwon, K. (2019). The long-term effect of training and development investment on financial performance in Korean companies. International Journal of Manpower, 40(6), 1092-1109.

Laker, D. R., & Powell, J. L. (2011). The differences between hard and soft skills and their relative impact on training transfer. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 22(1), 111-122.

Ludwikowska, K. (2018). The effectiveness of training needs analysis and its relation to employee efficiency. Wroclaw University of Science and Technology No. 77. doi:10.21008/j.0239-9415.2018.077.11

Mishra, V., & Smyth, R. (2015). Workplace policies and training in China: evidence from Matched Employee-Employer Data. International Journal of Manpower, 36(7), 986-1011

Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia (MOHE). (2006). Soft Skills Development Module for Malaysian Institutions of Higher Learning. Serdang: Universiti Putra Malaysia Press.

Moss, P., & Tilly, C. (1996). “Soft” skills and race: an investigation of black men’s employment problems. Work and Occupations, 23(3), 252-276.

Niazi, A. S. (2011). Training and development strategy and its role in organisational performance. Journal of Public Administration and Governance 1(2), 42-57.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) (2016). OECD Economic Surveys: Malaysia 2016. Economic Assessment. Retrieved from

Olexová, C. (2017). Establishing the financial returns arising from an evaluation of a retail training programme. Industrial and Commercial Training, 50(1), 20-31.

Otuko, A. H., Gabriel, K. C., & Douglas, M. (2013). Effect of training dimensions on employee’s work performance: a case of mumias sugar company in Kakamega County. International Journal of Business and Management Invention, 2(9), 138-149.

Penrose, E. T. (1959). The Theory of the Growth of the Firm. New York: John Wiley.

Rahman, A. A., Ng, S. I., Sambasivan, M., & Wong, F. (2013). Training and organisational effectiveness: moderating role of knowledge management process. European Journal of Training and Development, 37(5), 472-488.

Rahman, W., & Nas, Z. (2013). Employee development and turnover intention: theory validation. European Journal of Training and Development, 37(6), 564-579.

Rasul, M. S., Rauf, R. S. A., Mansor, A. N., Yasin, R. M., & Mahamod, Z. (2013). Graduate employability for Manufacturing Industry. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences 102, 242-25.

Roni, S. M., Djajadikerta, H., & Ahmad, M. A. (2015). PLS-SEM Approach to second-order factor of deviant behavior: constructing perceived behavioural control. Procedia Economics and Finance, 28, 349-253.

Santos, A., & Stuart, M. (2003). Employee perceptions and their influence on training effectiveness. Human Resource management Journal, 13(1), 27-45.

Sekaran, U. (2013). Research Method for Business: A Skill Building Approach (4th ed). John Wiley & Sons.

Stam, M., & Molleman, E. (1999). Matching the demand for the supply of IT professionals: towards a learning organization. International Journal of Manpower, 20(6), 375-387

Thang, N. N., Quang, T., & Buyens, D. (2010). The relationship between training and firm performance: a literature review. Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, 18(1), 28-45.

Tharenou, P., Saks, A. M., & Moore, C. (2007). A review and critique of research on training and organisational –level outcomes, Human Resource Management Review, 17(3), 251-273.

Úbeda-García, M., Cortés, E.C., Marco-Lajara, B., & Zaragoza–Sáez, P. (2014). Strategy, training and performance fit. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 42, 100-116.

Wan Abdullah, W. A. (1994). Transnational corporations and human resource development: some evidence from the Malaysian manufacturing industries. Personnel Review, 23(5), 50-69.

World Bank (2018). Malaysia Overview. Retrieved from country/malaysia/overview

World Bank (2020). World Development Indicators, Manufacturing, value added (% GDP) Malaysia (Data file). Retrieved from

World Economic Forum (WEF). (2016). The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from

Zainuddin, S. Z., Pillai, S., Dumanig, F. P., & Phillip, A. (2019). English language and graduate employability. Education + Training, 61(1), 79-93.

How to Cite
Bee-Lan Lok, Ming-Yu Cheng, & Chee-Keong Choong. (2021). The Relationship between Soft Skills Training and Development, Human Resource Outcome and Firm Performance. International Journal of Business and Society, 22(1), 382-402.