Short articles: Enhancing Knowledge Transfer Professionals' Soft Skills for Inclusive Higher Education

The world of knowledge transfer is in constant movement, and soft skills are important to maintain impactful collaborations. Especially communication and negotiation skills are key skills in building long-lasting relationships in knowledge transfer.

In the ever-evolving landscape of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the role of Knowledge Transfer (KT) professionals has become increasingly pivotal. These experts bridge the gap between academia and industry, ensuring that research findings and innovative ideas are effectively transferred and applied in the real world. However, despite their technical abilities, KT professionals often face challenges related to their soft and transversal skills. The KTSoftSkills project, seeks to address this issue by enhancing the skill set of KT professionals and, in turn, transforming HEIs into more inclusive and collaborative organisations.

The KTSoftSkills Training Programme

To achieve its mission, the KTSoftSkills project is on a mission to design a comprehensive training programme tailored specifically for KT professionals. This initiative recognises that while technical expertise is crucial, the ability to navigate complex human interactions is equally essential. By addressing areas where KT professional may currently be lacking skills, the programme shall deliver training to help them advance in their professional lives.  

Insights from Expert Interviews

The foundation of the KTSoftSkills project is rooted in research. To understand the unique challenges faced by KT professionals, the project conducted 60 interviews with experts and practitioners. These interviews yielded valuable insights into the critical areas of improvement required for KT professionals to thrive.

Among the interviewees, 23% were experts in the field, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the discussion. Additionally, 29% of interviewees hailed from the business context, while the remaining 48% worked within HEIs. This diverse group provided a well-rounded perspective on the challenges and opportunities within knowledge transfer.

The Importance of Soft Skills in Knowledge Transfer

One of the clear indicators which emerged from the interviews was the unanimous agreement on the need to focus on building soft skills for KT professionals. Soft skills, such as communication, negotiation, relationship building, and leadership are often underestimated but play a pivotal role in the success of knowledge transfer initiatives.

The significance of soft skills becomes particularly evident during negotiation processes. As one interviewee astutely pointed out, "in the end, [negotiating] is all about the relationship that you build with your counterpart. If you have poor soft skills, you can even break a deal." This statement underscores the critical nature of interpersonal dynamics in the world of knowledge transfer.

The Communication Challenge

Among the soft skills discussed, communication skills emerged as a central theme. Many professionals identified a lack of communication skills as a significant issue in their departments. The repercussions of poor communication can be profound, leading to a break down in trust, transparency, and collaboration among team members. As one interviewee noted, "deteriorating communication and trust can lead to resentment" in the office.

By addressing these communication challenges, KT professionals can improve relationships within their teams and boost interactions with stakeholders. Effective communication fosters transparency, builds trust, and ensures that the knowledge transfer processes run smoothly.


In the fast-paced world of knowledge transfer, technical expertise alone is no longer sufficient. The KTSoftSkills project recognises that for HEIs to transform into more inclusive organisations and for KT professionals to excel in their roles, a focus on soft and transversal skills is essential.

The insights gleaned from expert interviews underscore the urgency of this endeavour. By designing a training program that hones the soft skills of KT professionals, the project aims to equip them with the tools they need to navigate the complex world of knowledge transfer effectively.

Finally, the KTSoftSkills project is not merely an initiative; it is a catalyst for change in the fields of higher education and knowledge transfer. As soft skills become increasingly valuable in the workplace, this project promises to be a game-changer; ensuring that KT professionals are well-prepared to bridge the gap between academia and industry, facilitating innovation, and driving the success of HEIs in the modern world.


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Close Cookie Preference Manager
Cookie Settings
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage and assist in our marketing efforts.
More info
Strictly Necessary (Always Active)
Cookies required to enable basic website functionality.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.