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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.


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.


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.


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.


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 13, individuals will show that they can support others to innovate by sharing a range of creative tools.

Up to now, the focus has been on equipping the individual to be a creative and effective innovator. Along the way, we have explored how to use imagination, how to generate ideas, to use creativity in work and wider life, and to use tools like mind mapping or questioning. Most recently, the focus has been on how to work in a group and build your stock of experiences and stimuli. 

In these final three steps, the focus is now on how to support others to become more creative.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • Why it is important to support others to be creative
  • What are some tools for generating ideas
  • What tools can be used for exploring ideas
  • What can boost others’ creativity more broadly

Reflection questions

  • When might you have to support someone else to be creative?
  • What tools might you be able to share with them to help them generate ideas?
  • What tools might support them to explore ideas further?
  • How could you support them to boost their creativity more broadly?
  • Have you had any experience of supporting anyone in this way?

What you need to know

Supporting others to be creative

As we saw in Step 11, there are lots of good reasons why being creative is often done effectively with other people. As a reminder:

  • More people trying to generate ideas is likely to lead to a higher number of ideas being created to start with (see Step 3 and Step 4).
  • This, in turn, leads to more opportunities to combine concepts, which can be an effective way to generate better ideas (see Step 5).
  • Ideas can also be refined more effectively through questioning, because there are individuals actually present who can ask those questions – they do not have to be created by the same person coming up with the idea in the first place (see Step 9).
  • Finally, if the group is diverse to start with, it gives you a headstart on ensuring that your ideas benefit from multiple perspectives as these should already be present in your group (see Step 10).

As such, boosting the creativity of others in your team will help your team to be successful.


Tools that can support generating ideas

There are a wide range of tools that can support generating ideas that you could share with them:

  • Idea Briefs: We saw in the earliest steps that constraints can help to stimulate creativity, so you can help others to be creative by setting clear parameters around what they should create (Step 3).
  • Success criteria: An extension of this is to set goals of what the idea should be able to do. This gives more space than a complete idea brief, and helps an individual to see whether they are on track (Step 3 and Step 4).
  • Combining ideas: Breaking an idea into its component parts can help to compare ideas and to either combine them, or to choose the best parts to create the final idea (Step 5).
  • Idea trackers: Since ideas can come to us at any time, many creative individuals swear by having a small notepad or similar available. This can capture ideas that come to them at any time in their work or wider lives – even those that arrive in dreams sometimes (Step 6 and Step 7).

Tools for exploring ideas

There are also plenty of tools for exploring ideas further, that you can share with other individuals: 

  • Mind mapping: This is a simple tool which supports exploring ideas and the links between them (Step 8).
  • Questioning techniques: Introducing questioning techniques helps individuals to explore their ideas more fully, and to deepen their thinking (Step 9).
  • Perspective widening: It can be helpful to get individuals to think about different perspectives – ideally by talking to a range of people, but at the least empathising with their viewpoint and developing that into innovations (Step 10).

Tools for boosting creativity

Finally, there are tools that you can share to help others to build their creativity further:

  • Group creative techniques: Sharing some of the pitfalls of working in teams, and looking at how they can mitigate some of these (Step 11).
  • Wider experiences: Supporting others to widen their experiences, by taking them into new places or encouraging them to go to places or take part in activities that are outside of the norm for them (Step 12).
  • Different stimuli: Supporting others to seek out new stimuli, by stepping outside of their comfort zone and seeking inspiration in unexpected places (Step 12).

Advice for


Why this skill step matters in education

If working in a group, or supporting another peer to innovate, boosting the creativity of others will help your team to be successful. A wide range of tools can be shared, depending on the setting and task at hand. Idea briefs and success criteria work well to stimulate ideas and help everyone work towards a shared goal. Mind-mapping and questioning can broaden the group’s perspectives when combining ideas on a project.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

Across all workplaces there will be opportunities to innovate, as a team, department or organisation. Using creativity tools and skills to support others will promote greater diversity in ideas and lead to more effective solutions for products, services and processes. The ability to employ a range of tools can help others avoid some of the pitfalls of group work, broaden experiences and seek inspiration from new or unexpected stimuli, resulting in more original ideas.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

Friends and family may seek advice and support for a number of reasons. To help others innovate we might consider suggesting new experiences for them to try or asking questions to generate more ideas.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Creativity, 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!

  • If a friend asks for advice, use questioning to help them explore their ideas more fully, and to deepen their thinking. Can you provide a different perspective they hadn’t considered?
  • Suggest trying somewhere or something new the next time you meet up with friends or family, to broaden your experiences. Is there a new activity you’ve been wanting to try?
  • Track ideas on the go by carrying a notepad or using digital tools for sketching and jotting down thoughts when you are inspired.

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Advice for


Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • This is an advanced step, and synthesises a lot of content that learners should have built up their understanding of over the previous steps. 
  • The teacher should start by asking why it is likely to be important to support others to be creative, particularly when so much innovation is not an individual undertaking. 
  • Learners can then think about the different tools that can support with generating ideas, exploring ideas and then boosting creativity more generally. The teacher can explain any of the tools that they did not come up with, and learners’ understanding checked.
  • Learners could consolidate this understanding by, for instance, creating a booklet or short information guide to share some of these tools with others.

Reinforcing it

This step can be reinforced whenever there are collaborative creative tasks to be undertaken. Learners can be reminded of some of the different tools that are available to them and encouraged to support each other by sharing the tools that they like to use. 

Assessing it 

This step is best assessed by asking learners to prepare a presentation about the range of creative tools that are available. They should present this to their peers or the teacher, including clear explanations of how they can be used.

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Advice for


Build it at work:

This step is relevant to everyone who helps others to generate high quality ideas. To build this step in the work environment, managers could:

  • Discuss the benefits of supporting others to be creative and reflect with the individual on the challenges we might face in doing so. Here, a manager might explain why it is important to support others to be creative, as outlined above.  
  • Show an individual a model which demonstrates the different ways they can support others to be innovative. To achieve this, a manager might create an illustration with three nodes: tools that can support generating ideas, tools for exploring ideas, tools for boosting creativity. Off each, the manager could sketch ideas which relate to the three categories.
  • Task an individual or group of individuals on an exercise to produce a ‘guide to team creativity’. The guide should include in it a range of different tools an individual can use to support with generating ideas, exploring ideas and then boosting creativity more generally.
  • Reflect with an individual which tools are useful to support creativity in which setting.

Practising it:

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

  • Working with colleagues:  Whenever colleagues are working to try to generate new ideas or innovations.
  • Working with customers or clients: Whenever we are trying to develop new ideas of innovations for customers or clients.

Reviewing it:

For those already employed, this step is best assessed through discussion and collecting feedback from stakeholders who work with an individual. 

  • Here the manager might collect feedback from stakeholders to help them understand how the individual supports others to be innovative. The manager might collect insight on both how frequently the individual does this and the range of approaches they use.

Spotting it in recruitment: 

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

  • Asking an individual to prepare a presentation about how they would support other members of their team to innovate. An observer can then watch this presentation to check an individual can reference a wide range of creative tools. 
  • To check this further, an observer might then present the individual with some hypothetical situations and ask the individual to explain which of the tools might be best applied to support team innovation.

Build this step

Advice for


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.

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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

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