How important are employability skills?

By Joanne Mitchell posted 04-03-2022 11:12


Read the blog then let us know your views in the discussion in the Clubs, Careers & Cross-Curricular group.

The Skills Builder Partnership has long believed that by helping educators develop skills sought by employers in young people, it would open employment opportunities and lead to long term career success. A report released this week assessed more than 2,200 adults against the Skills Builder Universal Framework  to look at how adults build and use their essential skills - and identify gaps and areas for improvement.

Working in partnership with YouGov, the eight skills of Listening, Speaking, Problem Solving, Creativity, Staying Positive, Aiming High, Leadership and Teamwork were linked with key demographics, job, education, and earnings data. So, what did the report show?

The positive aspects:

  • increased wellbeing
  • increased wage premium (£3900 - £5900)
  • less likely to be out of work or education (52%)
  • they are important for work (89%)
  • important for academic attainment (71%)
  • important for overcoming adversity (86%)

The negative aspects:

  • demand for essential skills development opportunities (83%) outstrips supply (14%)
  • uneven distribution of opportunities to build skills across the UK
  • people with less engaged parents during their education exhibited lower skill set levels
  • people from non-selective and non-independent schools had lower skill set levels
  • regions in the North and East of England have lower skill set levels than London, South and Midlands
  • those from disadvantaged backgrounds had less opportunities to build skills in school and left education with below average skill levels

This last point was seen to create a negative spiral - less opportunity leads to less desire to build employability skills, and a tendency to remain in low skilled and lower paid jobs, leading to low levels of life satisfaction.

Many of us will be familiar with the underlying messages from the findings. There are actions and ideas that education and organisations could take from the tracker report which would be relatively easy to implement. What comes across clearly in the report is the belief that employability skills are important to employers and to the individuals who explored their own career journey. The evidence underlines that improved ability in the defined skill levels creates more career opportunities in the future. The learning starts in school and continues throughout life.

Here at STEM Learning we believe employability skills are important, and are constantly focusing on embedding these essential skills in our programmes. We’re also actively seeking out opportunities to better support young people. The STEM Clubs programme has already made a start with every project in the themed activity booklets linked to essential skills. The programme offers free CPD workshops on employability skills and careers awareness.

The STEM Ambassador programme is embarking on training STEM Ambassadors to understand the Universal Framework, identify their own skill levels and use their knowledge to support young people as they develop theirs. It seems clear that we have a duty to help educators and industry assist every student to have opportunities to raise their skill levels.

Perhaps a question to ask yourself is, ‘How could I, in an already overloaded system, support young people to develop the employability skills they will need to secure a successful future?’

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