This paper brings you practical insights on why and how to build essential skills into your business. It is based on years of research by professionals and academics as well as practical experience, with case studies from a range of employers that have leveraged a structured approach to skills in order to boost their recruitment, staff development & outreach.
Over the last decade, the Skills Builder approach has transformed the teaching of essential skills in education systems and classrooms across the world.
Essential skills like communication, collaboration, creative problem solving and self-management having long been called for.
New evidence shows that these skills unlock learning in the classroom, boosting academic outcomes, perseverance and self-belief. They halve the likelihood of being out of work, and increase earnings across a lifetime. They even boost wellbeing and life satisfaction.
But access to these skills isn’t fair. As educators, it can be difficult to go from knowing these skills matter to how to teach them in the classroom with real rigour.
Published in full for the first time, this Handbook helps any educator to use the Skills Builder approach with their learners – whether in primary school, secondary school, college or special school.
It starts by exploring how skills are built, and the key principles that make a difference. Principles that include being transparent about the steps to mastery, working across all ages, assessing skills robustly, directly teaching core tools and concepts, and then practicing them in lots of settings.
By breaking essential skills down into teachable steps, educators can dip in and out of this Handbook to assess, teach, and practice each skill step in turn for learners at all ages and stages. In doing so, educators can accelerate learners’ mastery of these skills, and navigate them to success.
There have long been calls for greater emphasis on essential skills, whether from business organisations, or from educators. But evidence on essential skill levels across the UK is limited.
The Essential Skills Tracker changes that. For the first time, we have a complete picture of how adults across the UK are building and using their essential skills – and where the gaps are.
In collaboration with YouGov, more than 2,200 adults completed an assessment against the Skills Builder Universal Framework. These assessments of essential skills including teamwork, communication, and creativity skills were then linked up with key demographic, job, education, and earnings data.
What did we learn? Read inside to find out.
This research piece was led by Emma Crighton, a member of our Education Team at Skills Builder. The paper channels the voices of teachers and their motivations around building essential skills for their learners. It also explores the barriers teacher face and how Skills Build can address some of these, as well as where wider policy change is needed. Speaking to teachers within and beyond the Skills Builder network, as well as seven leaders in the education sector, the insights gathered include:
This report is built off a new research study conducted with YouGov including more than 3,000 young people aged 16-24 years-old. Individuals completed a self-assessment against the Skills Builder Universal Framework, as well as sharing other outcomes data. Insights generated include:
This report is built off new analysis of the British Cohort Study, creating proxy measures for essential skill levels when individuals were aged 10- and 16-years-old in 1980 and 1986 respectively. The analysis sought to test five hypotheses, by linking together datasets around the British Cohort Study (1970). In doing so, we found that higher levels of self-reported essential skills levels are associated with:
This report was written by the Centre for Education & Youth with the Skills Builder Partnership, and reviewed existing robust academic studies exploring the links between essential skills and wider life outcomes. The report highlighted evidence of three links:
Where studies in this review explored the features of effective delivery, they indicated that essential skills interventions tend to be more effective when regular, long term, explicit, embedded, structured, supported and targeted.
This report brings together analysis of the Skills Builder Framework and how it could be extended to act as a universal framework – equally relevant to individuals at all stages of their education or careers. Developed as part of the Essential Skills Taskforce, the work reviewed the completeness and relevance of the existing Skills Builder approach through four comparative lenses:
The framework was the tested through a series of roundtables with employers, educators, and other individuals to ensure that it was not only rigorous but usable. The final result was the Skills Builder Universal Framework.
This book was written by Skills Builder’s founder, Tom Ravenscroft, reflecting on the lessons learned over the organisation’s first eight years. Drawing on experience and the broad literature around education and skills development, the book explores:
This report, written by LKMco (now the Centre for Education & Youth), reviewed the evidence around enterprise education and the best-practice principles developed by Enabling Enterprise (now Skills Builder Partnership). This evidence review was complemented by a roundtable in January 2017, and five case studies of primary and secondary schools using the approach around the country.
The report highlighted that:
The report highlighted priorities to:
It's been another transformative year for Skills Builder Partnership and the culmination of our three year strategy beginning in 2019.
Our Impact Report 2022 celebrates the collective impact that the 841 partners who make up the Partnership are continuing to have, and shares the growing reach and impact of our shared work, delivering more than 2.3 million high quality interventions in 2021-22:
This year, we grew our international work, with programmes running in ten countries, and our products used in many more. Together, we are driving global change to achieve our shared vision: one day, everyone will build the essential skills to succeed.
It has been a breakthrough year for the Skills Builder Partnership, and I’m excited to be able to share our 2021 Impact Report. The year has not been short of challenges on many fronts and for many of our 725 partners. We have all been affected by the pandemic and lockdowns.
At the same time, the work we do supporting everyone to build their essential skills has never been more important. These skills matter for children who have spent months isolated form their peers. They can support young people struggling to manage examinations and completing school or college under huge uncertainty. They are a vital for individuals navigating huge change in their workplaces or wider lives.
Our research publications this year have highlighted that all too often essential skills are correlated with demographics and opportunities to build them are not fairly distributed. At the same time, boosting essential skills is correlated with better school performance, higher self-efficacy and career ambitions, and with a substantial wage premium.
In the Partnership, we are all keenly aware of the urgency of what we are doing. So I am encouraged that despite the circumstances, the Partnership has made huge strides towards our mission, across all of the different strands of our work.
As a result, the Partnership has delivered 1,468,611 opportunities for individuals to boost their essential skills this year. This combines the 187,783 individuals who built their essential skills through programmes that were run in schools and colleges by our central team. It includes a further 65,504 who benefited as individuals from our products. However, it also includes the wider impact of 1,215,324 opportunities for individuals to build their essential skills through approved programmes of partners.
This is a significant step forwards for our collective reach – a total more than four times that of the previous year. We are also seeing meaningful progress on our national reach: through the Partnership, more than 75% of UK secondary schools and colleges now have some use of the Skills Builder approach. We are ambitious for the coming years. We are piloting our work in seven countries in the coming year, as well as expanding to the other home nations of the UK. Our work with employers is growing quickly, with 25 employers now embedding the Skills Builder approach into how they hire and grow their staff, helping to level the playing field and ease transitions into work.
We have a long way to go, but I’d like to congratulate all of our partners on an incredible year and an important step towards our shared mission.
It has certainly not been the year that we originally planned for across the Partnership, but the pandemic has demonstrated our collective determination and resilience.
One of the biggest shifts for us this year has been the launch of the Skills Builder Universal Framework - a collaborative effort over 18 months, developed with the CBI, CIPD, Gatsby Foundation, Business in the Community, Careers & Enterprise Company and the EY Foundation. This has helped to better join up all of our efforts and provide a complete journey for any individual to master their essential skills.
We have seen continued strong growth in impact across all three strands of the Partnership:
This year, we celebrated 10 years since we got started as Enabling Enterprise back in 2009. Over that time, our work has constantly evolved, to where we are today as the Skills Builder Partnership. We made the shift because working together and combining our efforts is by far the best way to ensure that one day, everyone builds the essential skills to succeed.
Across the three strands of the Skills Builder Partnership, the headlines are:
This 2018 Impact Report captures a transformational year for Enabling Enterprise. In our ninth year, we have worked with more students than ever before – with 95,938 students completing one of our programmes this year. It’s great to see that even as our work continues to grow, we have been able to maintain the impact of our programmes at scale.
This year has seen a big shift in broadening our work beyond our existing partnership of 335 schools and 130 employer partners. In October 2017, The Missing Piece: The Essential Skills that Education Forgot was published by John Catt Publishing, drawing together the evidence base and what we’d learnt in ensuring that every child and young person builds the essential skills to thrive.
Then, in May 2018, we launched the Skills Builder Framework and the Partnership behind it. The Framework is the culmination of more than four years work and takes the eight essential skills and turns breaks them down into teachable, measurable chunks. The process of refinement benefited from the expertise of more than sixty individuals and piloting in twenty organisations. As we enter our tenth year, the organisation goes from strength to strength: we are seeing a surge of interest and excitement from schools across the country in building the essential skills of their students, and the Partnership is growing by the day.
It’s a huge pleasure to be able to share our Impact Report for 2017. The last year has seen our partnership take a meaningful step forward towards achieving our mission.
Our programmes have continued to grow quickly, with over 87,000 students across the country taking part in an Enabling Enterprise programme in the last year. That is almost double the number just two years ago.
This year we passed a milestone, with over 250,000 student programmes now completed over the seven years of Enabling Enterprise.
Research from the Centre for Education and Youth and Skills Builder showed that “essential skills interventions tend to be more effective when regular, long term, explicit, embedded, structured, supported and targeted.”
In this session, we heard from Skills Leaders from a range of schools talk about how they used Skills Builder and their NPQ to make sure that essential skills teaching was effective in their setting.
Please note: This event was available exclusively to schools and colleges on our flagship programme, the Accelerator.
What is the level of essential skills in the UK, and is it improving?
That's what we've answered with the Essential Skills Tracker, which builds the picture of what essential skills development looks like across both the UK and adults’ lives.
At our official launch event, we heard the key findings from the Tracker's authors Robert Craig and Will Seymour, and insights from a discussion facilitated by our Founder and CEO, Tom Ravenscroft. We had great panelists join us:
To learn more about the findings, click here.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the eight essential skills are key to achieving success in education – but what about beyond the classroom?
That’s exactly the question that our first Education Webinar of 2022, taking place on February 3rd, homed in on. We explored recent research on why linking essential skills with real-world problems and challenges is so important, and looked at ways schools and colleges are using projects, challenge days, virtual trips, and work experience to bring essential skills to life.
Our Education Associate, Bethan Jeffers, was joined by a great panel of speakers, who spoke of the impact of building essential skills:
• Claire Noble, Teacher and Skills Leader at Saxon Mount School
• Katie Brooks, Year 4 Class Teacher and Skills Leader at Windy Arbor Primary School
• Lucy Harrison, Global Corporate Responsibility Co-ordinator at Linklaters LLP
• Phoebe Stone, Head of Sustainable Investing at LGT Vestra
Go to our blog to watch the recording and find out more.
Following the success of our Home Learning Hub resources, which were made available to schools and families as a response to the Covid pandemic, we have since worked to develop a new and improved resource platform: Skills Builder Homezone.
Homezone has been specifically designed to help parents and carers of children aged 3 to 14, to build their child’s essential skills at home. From family activities to supporting older children to access independent tools for their own skill development. Skills Builder Homezone can be enjoyed at a time and pace to suit all families.
We held an Education Webinar to help you get to grips with everything that’s new. Our Lead Associate for Parents and Carers, Alison Gale, was joined by fantastic guest speakers with a range of expertise in education and home learning support:
• Chris Johnson, Y6 teacher, UKS2 Phase Leader and Creative Curriculum Leader
• James Tristram, Enterprise Stream Lead, Shaftesbury Park Primary
• Leanne, Year 5 Parent Shaftsbury Park Primary
• Charlotte Fryatt, Senior Education Associate
• Laura Jones, Senior Education Associate Product
In the first Education Webinar of 2021-22, we focus discussion on the relationship between careers / work-related learning and the eight essential skills, at all phases of education. Hannah Senior, one of our Senior Associates at Skills Builder, walks through a selection of research, publications and government guidance on the role of essential skills in careers education. Plus, we hear from three expert speakers on the topic "How do essential skills support careers and work-related learning at Primary, Secondary and Post-16?". Guest speakers include:
During our final education webinar of the academic year, we launched our latest piece of research – Essential skills: Teachers’ perspectives on opportunities and barriers. This research channels the voice of teachers and their motivations around building essential skills for their learners. It also explores the barriers teacher face and how Skills Build can address some of these, as well as where wider policy change is needed. Emma Crighton from our Education team and the author of the paper shared the key findings of the report during the session before Tom Ravenscroft, our CEO, facilitated a fireside chat with a panel of guest speakers:
Watch the recording of the webinar to hear the insight we gathered from the research and the reflections from our fantastic panel who joined us for the event.
In June, our education webinar focused on how Skills Builder schools and colleges are embedding essential skills beyond the classroom through their work with parents and carers and Skills Builder platforms such as the Home Learning Hub and Skills Builder Benchmark. We heard from two members of the Skills Builder team who talked us through how these platforms were designed and how they can support teachers, individuals and parents and carers. This was contextualised by Zoe Armitage at Stanborough School and Colin Galley at New College Durham who shared how they develop essential skills beyond the classroom and the impact this has had for their pupils.
In March, schools and colleges on a Skills Builder programme were invited to attend our third Education Webinar: Creating Sustainable Change.
The webinar began with an introduction from Skills Builder’s Emma Crighton who talked about how we recognise good practice in our schools and colleges through the Skills Builder Award. Emma outlines how the award was developed and how it is supporting our schools and colleges to embed long-term, sustainable essential skill development. You can download the award guide mentioned in the webinar at skillsbuilder.org/awardguide
During the webinar, we talked to four of our schools and colleges about where they were in their Skills Builder journey, how they used the programme in their setting and their plans for 2021-22. Watch the recording of the webinar to hear from our Skills Leaders, find out more about the award process and discover some new ideas and top tips for how to develop a long-term essential skills programme in your setting.
On January 28th we ran our second Skills Builder Education Webinar for teachers and leaders signed up to a Skills Builder programme. This webinar explored how to teach the essential skills to learners with additional needs both in mainstream and specialist settings.
During the 45 minute webinar we heard from three fantastic speakers from schools and colleges who were embedding the Skills Builder approach for learners with additional needs. We also heard from the National Literacy Trust whose resources give all pupils the opportunity to apply the essential skills. This was followed by a Q&A and an update from Tom Varley, our SEND lead at Skills Builder who talked about some key resources and next steps.
If you work with learners with additional needs, are interested in developing an inclusive approach to skills teaching or are just interested in hearing some fantastic success stories from across the partnership, this webinar is for you.
On 9th June our Director of Development Rosa Morgan-Baker hosted our first webinar based around the Skills Builder Framework, with a spotlight on Staying Positive. This essential skill is needed across contexts - all through education and on into employment and beyond. Watch the whole webinar, featuring an interview with our Founder & CEO Tom Ravenscroft.