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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 6, individuals will understand what creativity is and see how they can use it in the context of doing their work.

In earlier steps, the focus was first on imagination and how to share those imaginings, and then on how to generate ideas against a brief, to improve something or by combining different concepts. This step shifts into thinking about creativity more broadly and its relevance across various aspects of learners’ work.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • What is creativity, and why it is valuable 
  • How creativity can be used across work

Reflection questions

  • What is creativity?
  • Why is creativity important?
  • How is creativity useful in doing your work?
  • Can you give examples of how you use creativity in your work?

What you need to know

Different aspects of creativity

Creativity is made up of three different aspects:

  • Using imagination – this is all about thinking of something that does not exist, and to be able to capture and share it in some way. This was explored in Step 0, Step 1 and Step 2.
  • Generating new ideas – this is about being able to harness imagination to create something new, or to improve it. 
  • Turning those ideas into something – this final step is about enacting those ideas and turning them into something – whether an action or a product.
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The value of creativity

Importantly, creativity is not just about art or performance. We can find it in all different areas of work – anything from engineering to medicine. 

Creativity is important because we need it every time that we want to do something new, or to make something better, or to imagine something that someone is telling you that you cannot directly see for yourself.

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Using creativity in your work

We all need creativity in different parts of our work. For example, when we are:

  • Trying to develop new ideas to solve a problem.
  • Trying to combine different ideas to create new things.
  • Responding to a brief that we have been given.
  • Imagining an experience that we have not yet had.

Without the skills of creativity, we would not be able to plan ahead for what might happen in the future because we have no way of knowing beyond what we learn and then imagine.

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Advice for

Educators

Teaching It

To teach this step:

The teacher can start by modelling lots of the different areas of teaching where creativity is important. For example:

  •      Developing interesting lesson plans 
  •      Planning for what might happen in the future
  •      Creating teaching resources and things that you can do as a class
  •      Learning from other teachers and their experiences

Learners can then think of all of the different times that they use creativity in their work. For example, this could include:

  •      Creative writing
  •      Thinking about what might happen when they do experiments
  •      Imagining places or events that they are learning  about

Learners can then write down as many different jobs or professions as possible in one minute. Learners can identify when these individuals may use creativity. They can be challenged to think of examples for each three elements of creativity:

  •      How do they use imagination?
  •      What new and original ideas do they come up with?
  •      What are they turning those ideas into? 

Reinforcing it

There are several ways of reinforcing this step across learning in school. The most significant part of this is to help learners to recognise and be able to articulate when they have used creativity in their work. 

This could be supported by a ‘Creativity Champion’ each week who is responsible for acknowledging when others have been creative and give them a call out, sticker or reward (as appropriate!).

In praise and feedback, the teacher can be explicit that creativity is being used, especially when it is not as obvious – for example, in science, history, ICT or geography. 

Assessing it 

This step is best assessed through conversation or a written reflection, asking learners to define the different aspects of creativity and to reflect on when they have used creativity in their work.

Build this step

Advice for

Employers

Build it at work: 

This step is relevant to all who create new ideas as part of their work.

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

Explain what creativity looks like in the context of work, referencing the three different aspects of creativity as they are defined above. 

Model how creativity can be applied in the context of the workplace. Here a manager might show an individual how they use creativity through their job. For example, a manager might show how they use creativity to: 

  •      Plan for what might happen in the future.
  •      Produce new tools and resources that can be applied to solve problems.
  •      Learn from other colleagues and their experiences.

Task an individual to observe a creative process in action. This might include watching a group of colleagues develop new ideas to solve a problem or respond to a brief they have been given. Through this exercise, an individual might be tasked to create a timeline of events, to draw their attention to how the group transitions from using imagination to generating ideas to turning ideas into something.

Reflect with the individual about work situations they face which require creativity.

Practising it:

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

  • Working with colleagues: When collaborating with others to bring something new into existence.
  • Working with customers or clients: When using imagination to create a new reality for customer or client.

Assessing it:

For those already employed, this step is by best assessed by observing an individual’s approach to work over time. 

  • An individual can be observed for evidence of how they demonstrate the different aspects of creativity in their work. This might include attempting to measure how frequently the individual applies creativity in their work.
  • This can also be explored through reflective conversations with the individual.

Spotting it in recruitment: 

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

  • Interviewing an individual, asking then to describe when they have used creativity in their work. Here the observer can look for evidence the individual has demonstrated all three aspects of creativity in their work (using imagination; generating ideas; and acting on those ideas).

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

Individuals

Why this skill step matters in education

Each of the three aspects of creativity support our learning in education: using imagination, generating new ideas and turning those ideas into something. Education provides opportunities to try new things and explore. We can use creativity to develop new ideas from a set brief, whether in writing, drawing or through actions. Using imagination and generating new ideas helps us to plan for the future and our work beyond education.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

Creativity is a desirable skill in the workplace. We can use our creativity to solve problems, produce new tools and resources and learn from the experiences and ideas of colleagues. Ideas can be combined to create new products and services. Managers, clients or customers might set a brief to inspire innovative solutions.

Why this skill step matters in wider life

While this step is mainly focused on using creativity in a work context, being creative at work can motivate us to be more creative in our wider lives too. Coming up with new ideas and sharing what we imagine helps us to connect with others and build relationships.

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!

  • Identify success criteria for a task you have been set. Generate ideas for how you could improve.
  • When learning something new, try to imagine and visualise what is being described. You may want to sketch something to support your understanding. How is this useful in your work?
  • Before testing something new, imagine what might happen next.
  • Before you start making something, consider your success criteria and, where relevant, sketch a plan. Can you combine elements from another idea or design to improve your design further?

Build this step

Advice for

Parents & Carers

As a parent or carer, you might be thinking about how best to support your children to build their essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:

  • Talking about how you use these skill steps in your own life
  • Trying to show how to use the skill steps, and explaining why you are doing what you are doing
  • Praising your children when they show they are using the skills well, and help them to see that as a worthwhile achievement

We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help parents to build these skills, including:

  • Skill stories for the youngest children (aged 3+)
  • Short activities that you can complete together
  • Regular challenges that you can complete at home to build the essential skills
  • Reward systems like printable certificates and badges

There is also content for older children and young people, including short activities and reflections that they can complete alone, or with you.

Build this step