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Develop essential skills in the workplace

The Skills Builder Universal Framework provides a common language for building essential skills in outreach, recruitment and staff development.
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Introducing the Essential Skills Academy

Deliver a work placement with impact with our essential skills training course

The Employer's Guide to Kickstart

Written in partnership with Business in the Community and CIPD, the Employers Guide to Kickstart is packed with tips on how to support your participants to build essential skills through their work placement and provides additional tools and resources to support the delivery of your programme.

Join the Skills Builder Partnership

Hire for the right essential skills
  • Identify the essential skills you need
  • Produce clear job descriptions
  • Ask the right questions to applicants
Grow your team and apprentices
  • Review strengths and development areas
  • Build a journey of skills building
  • Access expert tools and materials
Inspire through education
  • Support children and young people
  • Sponsor local schools & colleges
  • Volunteer with impact
Get in touch to find out more

120+ employers are building essential skills as part of the Skills Builder Partnership

East London Business Alliance

East London Business Alliance

East London Business Alliance are using the Skills Builder Universal Framework to help them understand how participants develop essential skills through their existing programmes. This new understanding will support ELBA to explain the value of their programmes to key stakeholders including current and prospective programme participants, funders and supporters.

ELBA are also using the framework to help explain the mutual benefits of volunteering. ELBA seeks to boost the recruitment of volunteers for their programmes by promoting the idea that volunteering can be used to support staff to build their essential skills.

They are also using the framework to identify how programmes can be optimised to further develop essential skills. Staff involved in delivering their careers, employability and mentoring programmes are using the framework to design content and materials which help build the essential skills.

This means participants, such as those on programmes to help those vulnerable to challenges presented by automation, will be supported to think differently about the skills they have and the skills they should develop in future.

ELBA’s Chief Executive Officer Ian Parkes is clear on the benefits of this work. He says: "ELBA's role is to work with our business partners to promote social mobility, address inequality and reduce poverty. The Skills Builder Universal Framework will take us to the next level in equipping people to succeed by giving them a language they can use to talk about their skills”.

Clarion Housing Group

Clarion Housing Group

Skills Builder Partnership and Clarion Housing Group have been working together to support essential skills development in schools since 2016. Together we have delivered inspirational student visits to Clarion's head office in London and widened the reach and impact of Skills Builder school programmes in Bromley and Merton, supporting over 2,000 primary students.  

Clarion Housing Group are now using the Skills Builder Universal Framework to help develop essential skills within the business. The Skills Builder Universal Framework has been used to design a programme to help five new apprentices, who are working towards a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Business Administration, to explore their essential skills and pass their end point assessment. Across a series of three online workshops, apprentices will explore how they use their essential skills in their work and take part in exercises to build the essential skills of teamwork and creativity.

The programme will also support apprentices, over a period of three months, to find opportunities for deliberate practice and reflection on all eight of the essential skills.

Alex Dean, Apprenticeship Development Manager, said: ‘We develop hundreds of apprentices each year through our mentoring programme. We recognise that it is vital that our apprentices build essential skills in conjunction with technical ability.  By partnering with Skills Builder we are confident that our apprentices can become the well-rounded team members that we need.’



Since 2019, Tideway, the company building the 25km super sewer to stop sewage pollution in the River Thames, have used the Universal Skills Framework to support their outreach activities. These week-long programmes introduce young people to employment opportunities in the construction industry and develop their essentials skill through practical exercises. Exercises can range from shadowing team meetings, where participants see Leadership skills in action, through to presentation opportunities where the young people can build their speaking skills. Throughout, participants capture their progress and observations in a Skills Passport to facilitate later reflection on their essential skills.

After noticing how well their programmes could accelerate essential skills development in young people, the team at Tideway began to explore how the framework could be used to help their staff to develop their essential skills. This led to them identifying how the framework can be used to accelerate staff development through volunteering.

By mapping their existing volunteering activities against the Universal Skills Framework, the team at Tideway were able to understand which volunteering programmes were developing essential skills. Their method is to then use this insight to target specific volunteering opportunities to staff who have an interest in building certain essential skills.

Tideway are piloting this approach with a cohort of volunteering ambassadors who will use a skills matrix, developed with the eight essential skills and 16 steps, to map out their own skills development journey. They hope their approach will help staff and stakeholders to better understand the business case for employee volunteering.



Boots prides itself on being at the heart of its communities and its supportive working culture. They recognise that people need skills that will support them as they move from school to work, from entry-level to management roles and from a career in one industry to a career in another. In the face of Covid-19 and its longer term impact, they see Essential Skills as more important than ever.

Boots UK’s HR Director Nathan Clements leads Business in the Community’s Future Skills and Good Work taskforce. He sees the Skills Builder Universal Framework as key to building a common language around essential skills from education through to employment. He says: “This is a defining moment for UK Plc as we adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic and consider the shape of business and society in the future. The eight Essential Skills of listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership and teamwork are the ultimate transferable skills. I urge business leaders to adopt these skills for hiring and developing their employees and to promote their uptake in schools, colleges and universities across the country.”

As a Skills Builder Trailblazer company, Boots UK is leading by example, incorporating the skills in their apprenticeship recruitment and learning and development resources. They have included information for candidates, parents and teachers on their new apprenticeship hub on Boots.jobs; used these skills in their Optician Apprenticeship job description; updated recruitment and engagement packs, building the skills into surveys for candidates and line managers and briefed assessor-tutors on bringing the language to life in teaching resources and curriculum design. They are also aligning the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the Boots Academy offer, developing bite-sized learning to meet different needs for skills at core, advanced and mastery levels.



KPMG sees social mobility as an integral part of the future of their business. They recognised through trusted sources like the Sutton Trust that students from more disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds had fewer opportunities to develop essential, non-academic skills valued by employers. The Skills Builder Universal Framework offers KPMG a structural solution to building essential skills and improving social mobility, with a focus on measurable impact.

The company first integrated the framework into its WorkReady initiative, which focuses on young people in the most disadvantaged parts of the country. Students engage with coding software and VR equipment in response to a business challenge while learning about the changing world of work and building skills in creativity, problem solving and teamwork. KPMG are now embedding Essential Skills across all their employability programmes, working with partner organisations to make sure the Skills Builder Universal Framework is threaded through their development and evaluation processes.

They also recognised that the eight Essential Skills mapped to key competencies KPMG was looking for in apprentices and graduates. As a Skills Builder Trailblazer they are trialling the framework with their Level 3 Business Administration apprentices with a workshop series that supports apprentices to:

• Explore what essential skills are and why they matter

• Reflect on their own essential skills, individually and with a peer

• Participate in a workshop with a particular focus on teamwork and speaking

• Develop their own plans about how they can continue to build their essential skills

• Agree an action plan for how they will boost their essential skills.

One of the key benefits they’re seeing so far is an emerging consensus around a common language for talking about Essential Skills, with potential to deliver real impact for young people both inside and outside the organisation.

Our strategic partners financially support us to expand our work - either through developing new programmes or extending into new areas. We couldn’t grow without them and thank them for all their support.
Our strategic partners financially support us to expand our work - either through developing new programmes or extending into new areas. We couldn’t grow without them and thank them for all their support.
Our employer partners periodically host visits to their workplaces by groups of students, who get a chance to meet employees and ask questions. Volunteers and students then get to work on a challenge that gives a flavour of what the organisation does.

Collective Impact Partners

Our Collective Impact Partners are a leading group of employers, working towards system-wide change in essential skills development. They work with us strategically, invest in our wider mission and enable us to expand our work, whilst also championing essential skills development across their own organisations. We couldn’t achieve our mission without them and thank them for all their support.

Employer Partners

Employer Partners of the Skills Builder Partnership work with us to champion essential skills development across their organisations, by embedding essential skills across their outreach, recruitment and professional development. Together, we’re working towards a world where everyone can build the essential skills to be successful.

Volunteering Partners

Our volunteering partners support our mission by helping students at our partner schools connect with the world of work. This includes both inspirational in-person and virtual experiences, to give students an exciting glimpse of the workplace and the importance of the essential skills. Through our fully-facilitated volunteering opportunities, our employer partners are able to expand their reach locally and nationally, increasing awareness of their sector and company, while also providing their volunteers with the opportunity to reflect and apply their own essential skills.
Addleshaw Goddard
The Adecco Group
Age UK
ALD Automotive
Allen & Overy
Aston University
Baker McKenzie
Balfour Beatty Vinci
Bank of America
Barratt Homes
Bird & Bird
Birmingham Airport
Brewin Dolphin
Buckingham Group
Bullring & Grand Central
Buro Happold
Clarion Housing Group
Clifford Chance
Credit Suisse
Crown Estate
Eurovia UK
Eversheds Sutherland
Exeter Golf and Country Club
Farrans Construction
Gowling WLG
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Higgins Partnerships
Highcross Hilton
IHS Markit
The Insolvency Service
John Lewis & Partners
Laing O'Rourke
Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust
LGT Vestra
Lloyds Bank
London Business School
London Stock Exchange Group
The Mall Luton
Mercia Asset Management
Metro Bank
Michael Page
Mount Anvil
Network Rail
Newman University
Oliver Wyman
Perkins Engines
Places for People
Royal HaskoningDHV
Rural Payments Agency
Save the Children
Societe Generale
STEM Learning
Tata Consultancy Services
Thames Water
Turner & Townsend
UK Power Networks
Unity Trust Bank
University of Birmingham
University of West London
Urban Splash
Wesleyan Assurance Society
White Stuff