As college-age students approach the world of work, it’s crucial that they get an opportunity to develop the eight essential skills they’ll need to be successful in their future careers.
Haringey Sixth Form College in London joined the Skills Builder Partnership to help their students build the essential skills to succeed. Staff have undergone training on how best to develop these skills in the classroom, and are dedicated to equipping students for the challenges of a rapidly-evolving economy.
Across the board, employers agree: to be effective, tomorrow’s workforce will need to master essential skills. Time and again, employers tell us that ‘soft’ skills – like being persuasive, collaborating well, being adaptable and organised – are as or more important than ‘hard’ qualifications. In fact, a huge majority say their bad hires are typically lacking in these skills.
It’s clear that it’s more important than ever to provide students with experiences that help them to impress in the working world, all while explicitly developing essential skills.
So, as part of Haringey Sixth Form College’s work experience week, we ran a Commit to Confidence Challenge Day session with several groups of students over the course of a day. The aim of the challenge was for students to rebrand an existing shampoo product for a younger audience. Along the way, they would have to consider the needs and opinions of their new audience, as well as come up with innovative packaging and an effective marketing strategy – before pitching their ideas to panels of their peers for feedback. We used the Skills Builder Framework to explicitly identify the elements of each skill we wanted them to pay particular attention to.
The students really took to this task, discussing branding ideas in their groups and focusing on tailoring their messaging to their target audience. They developed Teamwork skills by assigning roles within their group - some worked on the marketing language, others on the visual design, and still others on the overall product strategy. At first, some were tentative about offering thoughts – but with a little encouragement from their team, students began to learn how to develop small ideas into fully-fledged concepts.
With the help of hand-drawn diagrams and even some makeshift prototypes, students considered to make their products stand out from the competition. They used Creativity techniques to help spark new ideas - such as considering other perspectives and being inspired by random stimuli - before reflecting on their effectiveness. After some iteration, they developed colour schemes and bottle shapes that would attract the eye of their customers, debating the kind of language that would be most appealing to buyers of younger ages.
Over the course of the session, the different groups put together a wide variety of marketing schemes, from free giveaways at universities to magazine advertisements. Then they prepared to pitch their ideas to other groups, thinking about how best to use their Presenting skills – for example, speaking clearly, making eye contact, and having a clear structure.
One of the key principles of effective essential skills learning is bringing it to life in this way: giving students an opportunity to develop these skills in a realistic, hands-on setting. It’s also important to keep practicing as often as possible, so they can reinforce the strategies they have learned – as well as keeping it simple with a common, consistent language around the skills.
You can learn more about how we help colleges integrate essential skills education by clicking here.