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The important role of educators in developing essential skills for the world of work

Ever wondered the value employers place on the development of essential skills like speaking, problem solving and teamwork within education? Or maybe you’re just curious to explore a range of tools and resources that can support your existing priorities within school or college? 

In our latest webinar for Skills Leaders working in our schools and colleges we: 

  • explored essential skills for the world of work
  • introduced the brand-new Careers Explorer online tool, which presents essential skill profiles for over 1000 jobs
  • shared some practical, quick-to-use resources to support your strategy.

During the webinar we covered the following topics (with time stamps):

  • Research (1.22 mins)
  • Bringing skills to life  (4:10 mins)
  • Guest speaker: Emma Reay, Head of Employer Programmes at Skills Builder (8:10 mins)
  • Resource spotlight (20:10 mins)

Watch the 30 minute webinar recording here.

Can’t watch now? Here’s a handy summary

Research (1:22 mins)

Lead Education Associate Laura opened the webinar by focusing on some key insights from recent research. 

The Essential Skills Tracker 2023, highlighted that despite the value placed on essential skills by many across the UK, when it comes to the development of essential skills,  the opportunities to build them – are not distributed equitably.

Ultimately, this disparity between values and opportunities leaves students and young people at risk of The Skills Trap: a lack of advantage and opportunity can lead to a lower trajectory – a lower skilled job, lower income, fewer opportunities to build skills in the future and overall lower levels of life satisfaction.  

Going on to speak about a recent report by the NFER (National Foundation for Education Research), Laura reflected on the expected changes in the demand for skills over time. When we consider jobs of the future, the findings show that even with major changes in society, the environment, and the economy, the essential employment skills will remain relatively similar to those measured a decade ago – something that guest speaker Emma Reay reiterated later in the webinar. 

Bringing skills to life  (4:10 mins)

What do schools and colleges on our programmes do well when it comes to bringing skills to life? 

They make the essential skills real by bringing the working world into the classroom, and showing learners how these skills are useful across their lives. This boosts their transferability beyond education. 

Laura encouraged everyone to reflect and consider: 

1 . What provision do you currently have within school or college, where students can apply their essential skills to real world experiences, problems and challenges?

2 . How do you know that the students are aware that they are using their skills? Are they able to link them to these real world experiences?

3. Are these opportunities available for some, most or all of your students? 

Guest Speaker, Emma Reay - Head of Employer Programmes at Skills Builder (8.12 mins)

Emma gave a real insight into some of the reasons why employers really value the development of essential skills within education. She shared why this is increasingly more important and more of a focus for us when working with our employer partners from a range of sectors. 

Emma began by outlining the current landscape highlighting that in 2020, McKinsey released data from their Global Survey that found:

“87% of executives stated that they face a skills gap in the workplace.”

For many of the most senior individuals at companies across the globe, addressing this gap and the knock-on effects it creates has become a priority. She noted that since they released this data, the impact of a global pandemic, the looming threat of recession and record levels of job vacancies in the UK indicate that this statistic is as or even more relevant today than it was three years ago. Companies are being forced to challenge widely held beliefs and reassess the way that they attract, hire and retain employees. 

Emma reflected on the uncertainty of future job markets and the short life span of technical skills. She emphasised that: 

“The role that educators play in supporting young people to build the essential skills, which have much longer life-spans, are more important now than ever. It will help them to succeed in a hard-to-predict future job market.”

Emma reminded us of the role of the Universal Framework and its importance in connecting employers and educators to ensure they have a common understanding and shared language in relation to essential skills. 

She showcased the Careers Explorer Tool and its role in supporting educators and employers to better understand the skills required for roles and what levels an individual might be expected to work at. For the first time, over a thousand jobs that are in the standard occupational classification have estimates of the essential skill scores required to get these jobs, and to do them well. The included jobs cover the whole breadth of the economy, from service, to professions, from entry level to CEO. It’s free to access through our website and can be used in a variety of ways.

Throughout, Emma provided a range of examples to really bring to life why employers value the development of essential skills in education, including a case study from Morgan Sindall. 

In summary, she emphasised that: 

“Employers really do value the development of these skills within education and it sets individuals up to be successful once they come into the workplace.”

Resource Spotlight (20:10 mins)

Laura wrapped up the webinar by sharing five resources which could support staff and students to think about essential skills in relation to the world of work. 

If you’re interested in using any of these to support your strategy around building essential skills, you can find them on the Skills Builder Hub or speak to your  Education Associate for further support.  

  1. Reflection Resources

Skills Passports are a great tool for students to capture reflections and examples around their skill application against each skill and step of the Universal Framework. The passports could be used as an interactive resource or on paper, they can be completed independently by students in Key Stage 2 + or used to support group reflection with younger learners. 

For older students, the interactive Reflective Log supports students who are working on a project or taking part in work experience. It allows students to evaluate their essential skills, set skill goals, reflect on their skill development and plan their next steps. Again this resource can be used digitally or in print - and it’s a great accompaniment to those schools and colleges who are using Benchmark and Launchpad. 

  1. Projects or Challenge Days

Some Skills Builder Projects and Challenge Days have either a specific industry focus or provide opportunities for students to consider a range of different skills and jobs. 

Laura specifically highlighted: 

  • Two project based learning resources: Legal Eagles and Breaking News.
  • Two Challenge Days (suitable for all ages/ step levels: A Day in Politics and Operation Moonbase. 

These are premium resources, with an associated cost. If you’re on a programme, please contact your Education Associate. If you are new to Skills Builder, look at Digital Membership.

  1. Careers Insight Sessions

Throughout the year we run Career Insight Sessions which are freely available for students on our school and college  programmes (from Key Stage 2 +).

Students have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the employee volunteer’s careers across a range of different sectors. They’re a great opportunity for students to see how the essential skills that they are building in the classroom can be effectively transferred to their wider working (and personal) lives.

  1. Skill Workshops or Assemblies

You might be looking to run workshops for your students during a career or focus week within school or college. These Essential Skill Workshops are a great customisable resource for you and your students to explore the importance of that skill in different contexts. For younger students, you could use the Skill Assembly Resources.

  1. Careers Explorer Tool & Essential Skill Top Trumps

Finally, if you’re interested in the Careers Explorer Tool that Emma introduced to us earlier and you’d like to explore this further with your students. Laura shared some  Essential Skill Top Trumps cards - they are a fun way for students to discuss and compare jobs, as well as the essential skills needed for each. This resource is  brand new and not available yet on the Skills Builder Hub - to get hold of them in the meantime,  please get in touch with your Education Associate. 

Thank you

Thank you to our guest speaker, Emma Reay and everyone who attended this networking event. It was great to hear your questions and reflections during the networking session at the end of the webinar. 

If you’re not currently working with us and keen to join us, you can register your interest for a place on the 2024-25 Skills Builder Accelerator Programme here, or find out more about Digital Membership options here.