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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 11, individuals will show that they can work through complex problems by using logical reasoning. 

In the last couple of steps, the focus was on complex problems, where there is no obviously correct answer. Those steps explored how to create potential solutions for such problems, and how to evaluate them. Step 11 and Step 12 focus on more in-depth analysis of the issues to try to come to better conclusions where information is unclear.

Building blocks

The building blocks of this step are learning:

  • What is logical reasoning
  • What is deductive logic
  • What is inductive logic
  • How can we create and use logic trees

Reflection questions

  • What is logical reasoning?
  • What is deductive logic?
  • What is inductive logic? 
  • What are logic trees, and how can we use them?
  • Do you have any experience of using logical reasoning?

What you need to know

Logical reasoning

Logical reasoning is about using a series of rational, systematic steps to go from known information to a justifiable conclusion. 

It is crucial when trying to analyse a complex problem, where we do not have perfect knowledge and we want to try to understand the links between different events. Logical reasoning can also support planning a sequence of events and how they might link together. 

There are two main types of logical reasoning:

  • Deductive reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning

Deductive reasoning

Deductive reasoning is about how we can deduce or predict specific outcomes through rules that we know to be true. 

This is sometimes known as ‘top-down’ logic because we start with rules and reach conclusions from rules. 

For example, we know that all rabbits are mortal. Therefore, if something is a rabbit, it must be mortal. However, that does not mean that everything that is mortal must be a rabbit.

In the context of the working world, we might be trying to plan a marketing campaign. We know that for most goods, demand for the good will increase when it is less expensive. Therefore, reducing the price of a product is likely to increase the demand.

As another example, we might know that the quality of a service is related to how much time a customer gets with a customer services operative. Therefore, if we make more time available with customer service operatives, then the customers will get a higher quality of service.

In summary, deductive reasoning is what we can predict based on what we know.


Inductive reasoning

Inductive reasoning takes the opposite approach to deductive reasoning. It is about how we can induce or try to create general rules based on a situation.

This approach is known as a ‘bottom-up’ approach to logic. We make observations, and we strive to use those to learn lessons and make rules that make sense of those observations.

For example, we see that lots of rabbits die, and we are unable to find a rabbit that is older than 18 years old, so we might conclude that rabbits must be mortal. 

In the context of the working world, we might see that lots of young people have started wearing hats, so we might induce that hats have become fashionable. Or our customer support number might have started receiving a lot more calls, thus we might induce that there is a problem with the service we are providing. 

However, inductive reasoning is about reaching probable conclusions, rather than the certainties that deductive reasoning works towards.

In summary, inductive reasoning is what we can learn from what we can see in the world.


Logic trees

A logic tree is a problem-solving tool that uses a tree-like visual to help us lay out the different parts of a problem and the consequences of making different logics. 

The logic tree can either be:

  • A diagnostic logic tree: understanding why something has happened
  • A solution logic tree: understanding how to address a problem

Of course, it might also be possible to combine these, as in the example given below:

  • A logic tree starts with a root, which is often the problem itself.
  • This leads to the main branches, which are the potential causes of the problem.
  • These can then be explored further through sub-branches.

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Why this skill step matters in education

Finding a suitable solution to a complex problem can be challenging at any stage of education. Logical reasoning is when you reach conclusions from rules or predict specific outcomes through rules that we know to be true help us to make predictions based on what we already know. Or it can be about how we can try to create general rules based on a situation. We may observe and learn from those observations and make rules based on what we have seen. For example, a student who has worked hard throughout their studies, contributing to lessons or lectures attentively, has handed in their assignments on time and has previously revised well for tests and performed well. Logically you could assume that that particular student will go on to achieve good grades in final exams.

Why this skill step matters in the workplace

Both inductive and deductive logic may be applied to complex problems in the workplace. For example,an events business might be trying to plan a new marketing campaign for an upcoming music festival. Using deductive logic - they know the demand for tickets to the music festival will increase when it is less expensive. Therefore, reducing the price of the tickets in a special promotion or early sale event is likely to increase the interest in and demand for the tickets, so they will sell more tickets. Using inductive logic – they have noticed more tickets are sold when there are more performers listed in the advertising from the very start. Therefore they induce that having a packed line up, with performers having shorter set times, is what the audience wants. In many organisations a specific individual, such as a Management and Marketing Consultant, or even a whole team will need to be applying these types of logic to solving complex problems.

Why this skill step matters in the wider world

As complex problems crop up in education, in the workplace and at home, there are tools that can help you to analyse a complex problem using logical reasoning. One tool is a logic tree. A logic tree is a visual tool which sets out the different parts of a problem and the consequences of each. A logic tree can either help us to understand why something has happened or help us to understand the problem. Many people find that by creating a logic tree they are able to make decisions to tackle the problem and overcome it.

How to practise this skill step

To best practise this step of Problem Solving, 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!

  • Investigate logic trees (sometimes referred to as Issue Trees) on line – there are many tutorials available to help you learn more about this tool and create your own.
  • Think about how and when you could use a logic tree to help you analyse a complex problem.
  • Have a go at creating a logic tree for a known problem.  Talk it through with a trusted family member, friend or colleague.

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Teaching it

To teach this step:

  • The teacher should be ready to spend some time on ensuring that learners can understand the theoretical difference between deductive and inductive logic. This can be quite a difficult concept, but a powerful one so it is worth persisting. 
  • Learners can be given examples of how deductive logic builds from what is known to apply those rules to new problems, while inductive logic looks at the world and then tries to work out rules from that. Learners could then try to distinguish whether examples given by the teacher are examples of deductive or inductive logic, before coming up with their own examples. 
  • The teacher can then introduce the idea of logic trees, and how they can be used for understanding why something is the case, or for exploring how to fix a problem. The teacher can talk through an example like the one above, and then ask learners to create their own. 
  • At the end of the session, a short quiz should be used to check understanding and consolidate learning. 

Reinforcing it

This step can be reinforced in the classroom when there are opportunities to think through how theories are induced from what is seen in the world - for instance, how some scientific theories were induced. 

Alternatively, the logic tree could be used to explore the causes of historical events or topics that are covered in geography. Finally, the logic tree can be used to identify the causes of social or environmental problems which would link well to youth social action projects. 

Assessing it 

This step is best assessed through:

  • Testing whether learners understand and can explain deductive and inductive logic, with examples.
  • Asking learners to prepare a logic tree to explore the causes of an issue.

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Build it at work: 

This step is relevant to individuals who handle complex problems at work. To build this step in the work environment, managers could:

  • Explain to an individual that inductive and deductive reasoning are two approaches that can be used to conduct an in-depth analysis to help form better conclusions where information is unclear. 
  • Model inductive and deductive reasoning to show an individual what the differences are between both approaches. During this modelling a manager might introduce the idea of logic trees, and how they can be used for understanding why something is the case, or for exploring how to fix a problem.
  • Task an individual on an exercise which requires they apply deductive or inductive reasoning to make sense of a situation and generate a logical conclusion. For example, an individual might be tasked to work with a group to develop a theory of change: an expectation of outcomes to occur over the short, medium and longer term as a result work. 
  • Reflect with the individual about which approach to apply in order to make sense of a situation. 

Practising it:

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

  • Working with colleagues: During meetings to explore a particular production or service issue, where we might use a logic tree to explore the causes.
  • Working with customers or clients: When we are analysing our work to ensure it leads to the right benefits for the customer. 

Reviewing it:

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

  • Asking an individual to use deductive or inductive logic to explore the causes of an issue, or to create a logic tree. 

Spotting it in recruitment: 

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

  • Asking an individual to perform a written or online inductive or deductive reasoning test. An individuals’ test scores can be reviewed for evidence of the skill step in action.
  • Questioning to uncover whether an individual understands these core concepts, and can apply them to a particular challenge.

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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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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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