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How do essential skills shape young people’s life outcomes?

What do we know about the impact of skills-focused interventions and what does it mean for teachers? Will Millard and Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel review the evidence. What is it that young people really need to learn in order to thrive throughout school and later life? This question has always been hotly contested, and rightly so: the things young people learn at school set them up for further study, training or employment.

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Employability: Every student needs these 8 skills

With the pandemic magnifying trends that were already under way, the CBI’s recently published Learning for Life report estimates that nine out of 10 UK employees will need to reskill by 2030. The robust college system envisaged by the College of the Future report from the Independent Commission on the College of the Future will be a critical part of meeting this demand. These changes are largely driven by automation, and it’s worth reflecting on the skills that machines find hardest to replicate. You don’t have to spend a lot of time scouring job adverts to spot what employers are consistently seeking in the people they are after – the essential skills that are valuable to any employer: listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership and teamwork.

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Business Charity Awards - UBS with the Skills Builder Partnership

The partnership between UBS and the social enterprise the Skills Builder Partnership has sought to address the skills gap between the education young people are given in school and the skills they need to thrive after education. When the founders of Skills Builder felt the students they were teaching were not being adequately equipped for life after school, they founded a partnership with UBS to build eight essential skills among their students: leadership, creativity, teamwork, listening, presenting, problem-solving, aiming high, staying positive. They wanted to do this with the same rigour as any other primary or secondary school learning.

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HS2 draws attention to importance of investing in essential skills

HS2 Ltd. has highlighted the importance of its workforce in times of crisis, when human skills and the ability to be able to stay positive, focused and recognise and support others makes a significant difference. The company has said that it has been able to adapt to the changes that needed to be made quickly and efficiently in multiple ways, with major construction works still taking place at over 80 per cent of the HS2 work sites between Birmingham and London, office-based staff being supported in working from home and the communication with external partners and the community being adapted in order to hold meetings and events virtually, instead of in person.

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Business coalition calls for focus on ‘soft’ skills with launch of new framework

Leading businesses and employers groups are today launching a framework to help businesses identify and quantify transferable soft skills. Created in light of the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Skills Builder Universal Framework will create a structured way for employers to keep a record of the skills their workforce has learned and developed – including listening, problem-solving, staying positive, leadership and teamwork – to help bring those skills in line with education and work experience on their employees’ CVs.

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Talent, internal mobility and workforce agility during COVID-19

There are times throughout the year when workers reflect on their careers and look for new opportunities. This can happen after a holiday, post qualification and, as a result of the situation for many implementing now, after being furloughed. But talent is hard to maintain. 90% of employers say that new hire retention is an issue. Organisations lose, on average, 30% of new recruits within three months. For some, this figure rises as high as 70%. Given that it costs approximately 33% of a new recruit’s salary to replace a leaver, retaining your best talent can give your organisation a competitive edge.

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Education must transform to make people ready for AI

A recent study by Oxford university estimates that nearly half of all jobs in the US are at risk from automation and computers in the next 20 years. While advancing technologies have been endangering jobs since the start of the Industrial Revolution, this time it is not just manual posts: artificial intelligence — the so-called fourth industrial revolution — promises to change the shape of professional work as well.

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Education’s missing piece

There is something fundamental missing in education. I saw it first-hand a decade ago as a teacher in a challenging secondary school in East London. Every new teacher faces challenges: seating plans, behaviour management, coursework. But there seemed to be a much bigger problem. I was worried that my students struggled to listen to one another and articulate their ideas. It didn’t seem sustainable that I worried more about their coursework and deadlines than they did – or that the expectation was I would organise them. And what about creativity, or the ability to problem-solve?

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‘The Missing Piece’ book review - Dr. Mary Bousted

Tom Ravenscroft has not only done his research – the sources in his book are wide and varied – but he also wears his learning lightly. The result is a very readable and convincing argument for the explicit teaching of skills.

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School reports miss the talents that matter - just look at Alan Turing

Alan Turing is one of an illustrious cast of over-achievers whose school reports did little to hint at what was to come. His mathematics teacher suggests that he would do rather better if his work was “intelligible and legible”. There is little hint of the deep problem-solving skills that would make him a formidable code breaker in the Second World War.

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Profile: Tom Ravenscroft

Tom Ravenscroft is perhaps the most quietly passionate proponent of a “skills” curriculum in education today – and if that rings alarm bells, keep reading. He was just nine years old when he set up a little production line making greeting cards. His mum, a speech and language therapist, suggested he sell them at village fetes, which he did. At 11, he offered his services as a car washer around his town of Marlowe in Buckinghamshire, soon “rebranding as a car valet” to charge a bit more. In the same year, Ravenscroft’s father, an auditor with BP, helped him decide which secondary school to choose by listing his key criteria, such as “IT equipment” and showing him how to weight them mathematically. A five-mile run was treated with similar foresight, with goals worked backwards over several months.

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Start-up success: six lessons for aspiring social entrepreneurs

While it may sound poetic, Enabling Enterprise was not born in a flash of inspiration. Rather it emerged from my desperate attempts as a naïve new business studies teacher to engage a class of challenging 14 and 15-year-olds. Through my time spent with this class I became increasingly aware that there were key elements missing in their prescribed business course. Namely, there was no practical element, few opportunities for students to develop their employability skills, and limited real world application.

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