SPONSORED: Are your learners leaving education with the skills employers look for?

What do employers really want? – it’s an age old question with a seemingly endless list of possible responses and accompanying challenges. Problem solving? Motivation? Resilience? Confidence? Literacy and numeracy? Digital skills? All of the above?

When we simplify it down, employers – no matter what industry they operate in – are looking for talent. They want talent that works for the changing needs of their business. Talent they can grow and cultivate. What’s more, this talent does not always mean qualifications evidenced by a piece of paper – it means transferable, usable skills, values and competency.

Transferable skills, also known as ‘soft skills’ have always been something that employers have been interested in, as it not only shows that employees can adapt easily to new surroundings, but also that they can use skills gained in one job and transfer them to the next. This is even more relevant today with research showing that millennials may change career up to 15 times in their life, with a constant need for taking stock, upskilling and reskilling. However, these soft skills can be difficult to recognise or quantify, especially on a CV or in an interview situation – and if they’re hard to identify, then you can guarantee that they’re even harder to measure and in turn, nurture and develop.

Whether through academic or vocational means, educators are under pressure to ensure that learners leave their respective courses, qualified and ready to enter the world of work. Self-awareness and resilience however are becoming more and more vital in a highly competitive labour market, so it is also important for learners to take responsibility for their own personal development and assess their own strengths and weaknesses to know what unique skills they can offer to potential employers.

To help educators to identify their learner’s talents and untapped potential, Skills Forward, in partnership with employability practitioners and education specialists, including awarding organisation NCFE, has developed Skills Work, a new psychometric testing application that will quickly, accurately and objectively measure a person’s core employability skills based on 9 core competencies: collaboration, communications, creativity, CV writing, initiative, job seeking, motivation, persistence and personal responsibility.

Matching learners’ baseline strengths and weaknesses against the Gatsby Benchmarks to generate an employability score as recognised by the CBI, Skills Work then creates a personalised skills plan for learners which will signpost them to useful content and resources to help them improve their skills in the areas identified by the assessment as needing attention.

Although Skills Work was initially designed for learners at the very start of their working lives, it could just as easily be used by those who have come back to education in later life in order to upskill and change career.

Industry 4.0 is a topic which is being talked about with increasing regularity in the news at the moment. An industrial revolution unlike any that we have experienced before, many people think that the fourth revolution, focused on technology and how this will be incorporated into industry, will see jobs being wiped out as we gradually become replaced by robots.

Whilst we will undoubtedly continue to see the streamlining of processes through the use of technology, especially in sectors which have previously relied heavily on manual intervention, we will also actually see the creation of new, highly-skilled jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. This of course brings with it, a necessity for a whole new level of digital literacy in employees, and (more importantly) a solid base level of ‘soft skills’ to build upon. After all, you can’t teach someone to engage with artificial intelligence (for example) before they’ve demonstrated basic skills and behaviours such as confidence or communication.

Being able, through applications like Skills Work, to constantly measure and improve skills in these core areas will be crucial to the workforce of the future. While the qualifications and experience that employers seek will change over time, the skills and competencies that they demand from their employees never will. Reliability, a willingness to learn, communication, working to deadlines, teamwork, a good understanding of English and maths – these basic skills really cannot be underestimated, so why not make them work for you?

Discover your core strengths today at www.skillsforward.co.uk/skillswork.