Developing your employability skills is important if you want to stand out to employers and be successful when you apply for jobs. Whether you are in year 10 or year 13 there are several ways in which you can develop your employability skills whilst you're at school.
Why are employability skills so important?
Employers need to find the right people and this involves more than qualifications. Employers are also looking for people that have the right skills, attitude and behaviour to be successful in their organisation. Employers want to know whether you can make decisions, whether you will fit into the team, whether you have the motivation to do a good job, whether you can use your initiative to solve problems. Being a young person, with a positive "can-do" attitude really helps to stand out of the crowd. These are only a few examples of the types of employability skills that employers value.
How can you develop employability skills?
There are a variety of ways you can take advantage of your time in school to develop skills that are important to employers. There are four main areas employers are looking for - problem solving, communication skills, planning and organising, and team working. Below we outline some ways in which you can start to develop these skills.
Problem solving means being able to seek out to take a logical and systematic approach to find the information needed to resolve issues. To improve their problem solving abilities students should:
- Think about solutions to challenges and problems
- Try alternative ways of doing things that aren't working well
Communication skills means developing clear and concise written and verbal communication and listening and thinking before speaking. To develop communication skills students should:
- Do presentations to the class
- Write letters to employers for work experience
Planning and organising requires working to a timetable and ensuring tasks are completed on time. It also means anticipating problems and building in contingencies. To help with their studies students should:
- Create study plans
- Use exam revision timetables
- Plan events such as parties or school related activities
Team working means getting things done by working with others in a collaborative way. It also means looking out for opportunities to help others. To become better team players students should:
- Find opportunities to work with other people
- Understand the role that you play in a team
- Play sports with others groups and societies you're a part of
Finally, a really easy and fun way to develop employability skills at school is through fundraising for local charity.
- Gather a group of like-minded people in your school who would like to raise money for the chosen cause = team working, initiative & leadership
- Choose what type of fundraising event would work best in your environment, e.g. a bake sale, a social event, sponsored run, delivering Christmas cards within school, delivering roses on Valentine's Day = problem solving
- Create a plan of when it will happen, what resources you will need and which teachers you would like to support it and propose the idea to the appropriate teachers = written and verbal communication
- Advertise your event to students at school and buy the resources = written communication skills and commercial awareness
- Run the event and raise lots of money for your cause = planning and organising
Tonyeh is Head of Talent Development at Pearson College.