A new piece of research by the City & Guilds Alliance identifies the essential character traits young people need to thrive in the jobs market and provides a framework for them to be taught in the FE sector.
Learning to be Employable, which has been backed by national employers including National Grid and TUI, highlights what can be done by educators, business and policymakers to ensure employability is better taught whilst young people are in education.
The report, written by educational experts Professor Bill Lucas and Dr. Janet Hanson, from the University of Winchester’s Centre for Real-World Learning, brings together respected thinking about character and employability. It recommends that teens should be taught a core set of employability habits before they enter the workplace including self-belief, perseverance, resilience, curiosity, empathy, creativity and craftsmanship.
This thinking places the education sector firmly at the heart of developing employability skills in young people and is a step-change from the current belief that many of these sought after skills are intrinsic and not teachable.
Other key findings and recommendations include:
- Extending the national citizen service to the Further Education sector. The National Citizen Service currently covers the ages of 15–17, but this could be extended upwards in age by one or two years to ensure a wider age range benefit from the opportunities they provide.
- Establish partnerships between employers and educators. Only by organisations, colleges, training providers and employers working together as proactive catalysts for collaboration, will we firmly establish habits of mind for employability. This will help share experiences and develop best practice models.
- Build workforce capability. Many staff in colleges have expertise in specific vocational areas, but not yet in the broader area of employability. There is therefore an opportunity for learning about effective ways of developing employability across the FE sector and taking into consideration approaches to teaching of employability from, for example Higher Education (HE), where this has become more of a focus.
Commenting on the report, Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Managing Director, City & Guilds, said:
“It’s great news that this research has debunked the myth of ‘you’ve either got it or you ain’t’. We now understand that it’s perfectly possible to teach young people the skills and characteristics they need to become employable. ‘Learning to be Employable’ is vital reading for the FE sector as it outlines the skills that are most sought after by employers and gives recommendations for how they might be best taught.
“Ensuring that young people have core employability skills is not only crucial for their futures but also for the UK’s economic and social prosperity. With this in mind we have developed curriculums such as our new TechBac with these skills embedded. We believe that this is the way forward for education in the UK to ensure we have a workforce to be reckoned with on the world stage.”
The report states that collaboration between educators, business and policymakers will be crucial to embedding these skills within the education system. The authors also argue strongly for the development of a common language to go beyond the currently vague term ‘soft skills’ that can be understood by everyone from parents, learners and teachers to employers.
Ben Walsh, New Talent Manager, National Grid said:
“As a large employer of school leavers we have first-hand experience that there is a considerable gap in transferable employability skills. We invest a lot of time developing young adults in adapting to working life; working as a team instead of the silos that they are often used to, being able to communicate to different audiences effectively and being self-sufficient in order to self-manage.
“We see a lot of academically bright students which is a fantastic reflection on our education system but support the need for building the right ‘habits of mind’ and instilling these from an early age, which will enable school leavers to be well rounded and ready for employment, thus positively impacting the figures of youth unemployment in society.”
Mark Laverington, HR External Partnerships Manager, PGL said:
“PGL endorses ‘Learning to be Employable’ wholeheartedly. Character and resilience are not only vital in securing a job in today’s employment market, but in our experience underpin both work performance and career advancement.”
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