| Views |

The importance of employability skills

Although it may sometimes seem to young people that exam grades are their passport to employment, there is growing support across the education sector for what careers guidance professionals have always known – that skills such as problem-solving, teamwork and staying positive are just as important for getting a job and making a success of it.

The hazy terminology and definitions relating to employability skills have undermined progress on working towards a common goal. The success of the Skills Builder Framework in building consensus across schools, colleges and other skills-building organisations marks significant progress, building momentum around a common language and shared outcomes.

At The Careers & Enterprise Company, we are delighted to partner with the Skills Builder Partnership to work together on a tool to measure employability skills. The tool draws on the Skills Builder Framework which identifies eight transferrable skills, broken down into a sequence of teachable, learnable and assessable chunks.

Our theory of change

Our mission is to improve the landscape of careers provision in England so that all young people are prepared and inspired for the changing world of work. The theory of change that underpins all our activities is based on the evidence that high quality careers provision within schools (as measured by the Gatsby Benchmarks) enables young people to develop personal attributes. These form the building blocks to achieve positive outcomes in education and employment when they leave school.

The personal attributes we focus on are employability skills, personal effectiveness and career readiness.

Developing Future Skills

Since joining the Company in November, I’ve started building on the work of colleagues in developing the Future Skills Questionnaire. This is our self-completion tool for young people to measure their perceived personal attributes providing the data we need to assess the impacts of funded interventions and other careers-related activities.

Findings from the initial pilot showed significant changes in scores following participation in careers-related activities.

  • A 10 percentage point improvement in a young person feeling able to come up with new ideas
  • A 20 percentage point improvement increase in young people’s determination to keep trying if they cannot do something
  • A 20 percentage point increase in a young person’s belief that they can make a plan for the next five years.

In the spirit of ‘test, learn and adapt’, we are now testing the questions further to make sure we are including the right attributes, wording the questions clearly, tailoring appropriately to capture the progress of vulnerable young people, and collecting the high quality data which will enable us to develop the evidence base on effective careers and enterprise provision.

The Skills Builder Partnership will be a valuable partner in this endeavour.