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Listening

The receiving, retaining and processing of information or ideas
This skill is all about being able to effectively receive information - whether it comes from customers, colleagues or stakeholders.

Initially, the skill steps concentrate on being able to listen effectively to others - including remembering short instructions, understanding why others are communication and recording important information.

Individuals then focus on how they demonstrate that they are listening effectively, thinking about body language, open questioning and summarising and rephrasing.

Beyond that, the focus is on being aware of how they might be being influenced by a speaker, through tone and language.

The final steps are about critical listening - comparing perspectives, identifying biases, evaluating ideas and being objective.

Speaking

The oral transmission of information or ideas
This skill is all about how to communicate effectively with others, being mindful of whether they are talking to customers, colleagues or other stakeholders and in different settings.

Initially, this skill focuses on being able to speak clearly - first with well known individuals and small groups and then with those who are not known.

The next stage is about being an effective speaker by making points logically, by thinking about what listeners already know and using appropriate language, tone and gesture.

Beyond that, individuals focus on speaking engagingly through use of facts and examples, visual aids, and their expression and gesture.

Beyond that stage, speakers will be adaptive to the response of their listeners and ready for different scenarios. The final steps focus on speaking influentially - using structure, examples, facts and vision to persuade listeners.

Problem Solving

The ability to find a solution to a situation or challenge
This skill focuses on how to solve problems, recognising that while part of Problem Solving is technical know-how and experience, there are also transferable tools that individuals can develop and use.

The first steps focus on being able to follow instructions to complete tasks, seeking help and extra information if needed. The next stage focuses on being able to explore problems by creating and assessing different potential solutions. This includes more complex problems, without a simple technical solution.

Beyond this, the focus is on exploring complex solutions - thinking about causes and effects, generating options, and evaluating those options. This extends into analysis using logical reasoning and hypotheses.

Finally, individuals implement strategic plans to solve complex problems, assess their success, and draw out learning for the future.

Creativity

The use of imagination and the generation of new ideas
Creativity is the complement to Problem Solving, and is about generating innovations or ideas which can then be honed through the problem-solving process.

The first few steps focus on the individual's confidence in imagining different situations and sharing their ideas.

The focus is then on generating ideas - using a clear brief, making improvements to something that already exists and combining concepts.

Individuals then apply creativity in the context of their work and their wider life. They can build off this to develop ideas using tools like mind mapping, questioning, and considering different perspectives.

The most advanced steps focus on building effective innovation in group settings and by seeking out varied experiences and stimuli. Finally, individuals support others to innovate, by sharing tools, identifying the right tools for the situation and through coaching.

Staying Positive

The ability to use tactics and strategies to overcome setbacks and achieve goals
This skill is all about individuals being equipped to manage their emotions effectively and being able to remain motivated, and ultimately to motivate others, even when facing setbacks.

The early steps focus on identifying emotions - particularly feeling positive or negative. Building off that is the ability to keep trying - and then staying calm, thinking about what went wrong, and trying to cheer up and encourage others.

The focus then turns to identifying new opportunities in difficult situations, sharing those, and adapting or creating plans accordingly. At more advanced steps, individuals identify and manage risks and gains in opportunities.

Finally, individuals support others to stay positive by managing their own response, helping others to see opportunities and creating plans to achieve them.

Aiming High

The ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them
This skill is about being able to plan effectively - both to achieve organisational goals, and also to set their own personal development targets. Initially, this is about knowing when something is too difficult, and having a sense of what doing well looks like for an individual.

The focus is then about working with care and attention, taking pride in success and having a positive approach to new challenges. Building on this, individuals set goals for themselves, informed by an understanding of what is needed, and then be able to order and prioritise tasks, secure resources and involve others effectively.

At the higher steps, the focus is creating plans informed by an individual's skill set, with clear targets, and building on external views. At the most advanced level, individuals develop long-term strategies. These are informed by an assessment of internal and external factors, structured through regular milestones and feedback loops.

Leadership

Supporting, encouraging and developing others to achieve a shared goal
This skill is relevant not only for individuals in positions of management with formal power, but also for individuals working with peers in teams.

At the earliest stages, the focus is on basic empathy - understanding their own feelings, being able to share them, and recognising the feelings of others. The focus is on managing - dividing up tasks, managing time and sharing resources, managing group discussions and dealing with disagreements.

Beyond that, individuals build their awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of their teams. This allows them to allocate tasks effectively. They then build techniques to mentor, coach and motivate others. At the highest steps, individuals will be able to reflect on their own leadership style and understand its effect on others.

Ultimately, they should be able to build on their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses, and adapt their leadership style to the situation.

Teamwork

Working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal
This skill applies to working within both formal and informal teams, and also with customers, clients or other stakeholders. Initially, this is about individuals fulfilling expectations around being positive, behaving appropriately, being timely and reliable and taking responsibility. This extends to understanding and respecting diversity of others' cultures, beliefs and backgrounds.

The next steps focus on making a contribution to a team through group decision making recognising the value of others' ideas and encourage others to contribute too.Beyond that, individuals improve their teams through managing conflict and building relationships beyond the immediate team. At the top steps, individuals focus on how they influence their team through suggesting improvements and learning lessons from setbacks.

Ultimately, individuals support the team by evaluating others strengths and weaknesses and bringing in external expertise and relationships.

To achieve Step 8, individuals will show that they can set goals, and then be able to secure the right resources to meet them. 

In the previous step, individuals focused on how to set goals, ordering and prioritising tasks to achieve them. This step expands on that, by introducing the idea of having the right resources to complete tasks.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • How to identify the resources needed for a task
  • How to secure those resources

Reflection questions

  • What are resources? Can you give examples?
  • Why do we need resources to complete tasks?
  • How do resources help us to achieve goals? 
  • What does it mean to secure resources?
  • Does this differ for different resources?

What you need to know

Identifying the resources

Resources are those things that we need to use to complete a task. 

Lots of things can be described as resources, and we can divide them up into different categories: 

  • Human Resources: These are things that humans bring to complete a task. These include: the time and effort of people who can complete tasks, and their knowledge, skills and experience. 
  • Physical Resources: These are tangible things that we might need to be able to complete tasks. These include: machines, technology, buildings or physical spaces.
  • Financial Resources: This is the money that we might need to pay for things we might need to complete the tasks.
  • Natural Resources: These are the materials that we might need to complete the task like water, gas, minerals and lots of other things. 

We are likely to need a combination of different resources to complete a task.

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Securing the resources

To turn a plan into reality, we need to know not just the resources we need, but also how to secure them. Securing them might not mean owning the resource – we might hire or borrow the resource instead for the time we need it to complete the task. 

How we do this depends on the type of resources:

Resources

How we might secure them

Human resources

  • It might be that you can provide the effort required if you have the right expertise and enough time.
  • If not, you might need to persuade other people to help you out – sometimes you pay people for their time; other times you might be able to convince them to help you without paying.

Physical resources

  • If you need special equipment for a short time, then you might be able to hire this. However, if you use up the resource through use, then you will have to purchase it.
  • In terms of space, you might be able to hire that space, or you might be able to borrow it.

Natural resources

  • Natural resources are the raw materials that you need to produce something. We usually will need to purchase these, although we might be able to recycle something already existing, or to have them donated if we need.

Financial resources

  • Financial resources are the money you need. How much finance you need will depend on the other resources that you need to secure.
  • You might be able to fund this work yourself, you might need to borrow from someone else, or if you might be able to secure the budget from your organisation if you can convince them it is a good idea.

As you can see, there are several ways to secure the resources you need. It is also worth remembering that if you can’t obtain particular resources, there might be other ways of achieving your goals without them, or by changing some of the tasks you decide to carry out.

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Advice for

Individuals

Why this skill step matters in education

To complete tasks and achieve our goals, we might need a range of different resources. If we had a group project to do, we would need a combination of human resources (the time, effort and knowledge from everybody in the group) and physical resources (computers, books, paper, materials and a space to work in). If we are planning a celebration event for our class or team, or need new equipment, we might have to secure financial resources and run events to help raise money to pay for it. It is helpful to explore the many ways to secure resources. You might find people with free time who are happy to help at your event, or they have equipment then can donate or lend you which would save you buying something new. Knowing what we need and the different ways to get those resources can help save time, effort and money.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

When we set goals in the workplace, we have to carefully plan which resources we will need and how to secure them. We may have to share a budget of how much our resources will cost and a plan of how long it will take so that decisions can be made and our goals can be approved. If when we set our goals we realise that we can’t secure the right resources we might have to make changes and find another way to achieve our goal. If an organisation doesn’t have someone with the right skills or knowledge, they might decide to hire somebody to help or offer training for their staff. Organisations may choose to hire physical resources like a machine, software or extra space to help complete tasks more quickly. If we need an extra building for the new staff we hire, we would also need extra electricity and a bigger supply of water. All these resources - human, physical, and natural - will require enough money to pay for them.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

In our everyday lives it can be easy to forget how many resources we rely on in a day. Fundamentally, we need food, water and shelter but we can easily get used to having other comforts which improve the quality of our lives like electricity, phones, internet, heating and transport. We might set goals to buy a new pair of trainers for sports practice and will need to save up money from a job to buy them. If we wanted to throw a birthday party we could plan out the different resources we would need and share out tasks with friends and family to help get the supplies we need (a space to hire, food, drinks, decorations and music). It’s also important to remember the human resources we have around us, like friends or neighbours who can help us or teach us something new. If we can’t find something or it is unavailable, we can use our Creativity and think of an alternative – you might be surprised to find it is better than your original plan.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Aiming High, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!

  • Think of an event you have coming up and make a list of the resources you will need and how you will secure them.
  • Before you start a piece of work, write down the different resources you will need and make sure you have everything ready.
  • Challenge yourself to make something (like a card or gift) which only uses resources you have already and can recycle.
  • Make a snack or meal with ingredients you have available at home.
  • Adaptor design a new game to play with items from around the house. Is there somebody who can help you?
  • Think of something you are saving up for or planning in the future. What will you need to achieve your goal? How will you get those resources?
  • Find out which resources can be hired in your local area, this could be a library, events space, sports or music equipment, tools for home improvements, or even transport.

Build this step

Advice for

Educators

Teaching It

To teach this step:

  • The teacher can introduce the step as an essential part of being able to achieve goals: goals are broken up into tasks, which then use resources to complete. 
  • The teacher can facilitate a discussion about the different types of resources that might be needed for different kinds of tasks, gathering ideas together in a mind map. 
  • Teacher could then model how a goal can be broken down into tasks, and then identifying the resources that would be needed to complete them.
  • Learners can work on a team challenge to take a goal and then to identify the tasks (reinforcing Step 7) and resources they need. They should share why they have identified those resources as being essential. They could be challenged to think about what they might do as an alternative if some of the resources were unavailable – could they adapt the tasks or resources?
  • This can be extended by giving learners a challenging project – for example, to organise an event. Learners could be given scope to plan the event having first identified their goal and any targets they might have (see Step 5 and Step 6). This will ground their thinking in reality and thinking about resources they could access, and how they would secure them. 

Reinforcing it

This step can be reinforced in the classroom by encouraging learners to set their own goals and make plans to achieve them. This might be linked to learning goals, completing projects or broader activities. For older learners, this might be related to qualifications or college and university applications. 

Assessing it 

This step can be assessed through an extended project or challenge where learners are responsible for creating a plan to achieve a goal. If an extended project is not possible, then a shorter planning activity might be sufficient.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work:

This step is relevant to individuals who can help themselves to succeed by making plans to achieve goals.

To build this step in the work environment, managers could:

  • Discuss with the individual the different types of resources that might be needed for different kinds of tasks, gathering ideas together in a mind map. Here, the manager might how securing resources is essential to achieve goals: goals are broken up into tasks, which then use resources to complete. 
  • Model to an individual how a goal can be broken down into tasks, and how to identify the resources that would be needed to complete them.
  • Task an individual to complete an exercise that is about taking a goal and then identifying the tasks (reinforcing Step 7) and resources they need to achieve this goal. Ideally, this would be based around a real goal for them.
  • Reflect with the individual, after they complete the exercise, about which resources they identified as essential and why.

Practising it:

There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:

  • Working with colleagues: When setting goals and making plans to achieve them, with a focus on identifying resources to help support this.
  • Working with customers or clients: When working to achieve a result for a customer or client, which requires careful planning first. 

Reviewing it:

For those already employed, this step is best assessed through a discussion and observation. For instance:

  • A manager discuss with an individual an upcoming situation which will require them to turn a goal into plan. Evidence of this skill step can be found in the individual referencing some of the techniques to secure the right resources to achieve the goal.
  • A manager can also observe whether the individual is able to identify and secure resources to enact their plans.

Spotting it in recruitment: 

During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed for by:

  • Questioning the individual about where they have made plans before, and secured the resources to enact those plans.
  • Setting an assessment exercise requiring the individual to develop a plan to achieve a goal and explain how they would go about delivering it. If it is not clear in their plan, an interviewer might ask questions to find evidence the individual has given consideration to what resources they need and how they might secure them.

Build this step

Advice for

Organisations

We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.

We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:

  • Tools for self-reflection
  • Materials to support you to teach the skills, if appropriate in your setting
  • Reward systems like printable certificates

We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.

More resources

Advice for

Parents & Carers

At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including:

  • Talking with your child about the essential skills, what they are and how they are useful in all
    aspects of life, whether at school, home or in the workplace
  • Talking about how you use these skill steps in your own work or wider life
  • Helping your child to identify where they already build their skills at school, at home or
    through other activities and clubs
  • Praising your child when they show they are using the skills well, and helping them to feel a
    sense of achievement
  • Encouraging them to recognise and talk confidently about their skill strengths with others, and
    supporting them to develop their skills further

More resources