Developing key skills for a lifetime of opportunity
A Department for Education and Employment case study

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Page 5: The needs of employers

Department For Education And Employment 5 Image 1Employers require people who will be able to apply their knowledge and skills and transfer them across occupations. Recently, it has been employers who have requested the development of Key Skills. They feel that formal education should be helping young people to ready themselves for the workplace in a way that builds upon their knowledge and experience. Although qualifications are accepted as a good indicator of ability to learn and to be receptive to further training, they only paint part of the picture.

Employers feel that attitude and personality, the ability to work with others and problem solving are additionally important. They emphasise the need for people to bring a wide range of knowledge and skills to work-based tasks that will complement their occupational, technical or professional qualifications.

Organisations have to rely on the continual development of the skills of their current and future workforce in order to maintain their competitive edge. Research has shown that high skill economies are much more likely to succeed than those that depend upon low skills.

These and other research findings have helped to construct six nationally accredited Key Skills. These are as follows:

  1. Communication - Communication is part of everyday life in business and involves taking part in discussions, making presentations, producing written materials, using diagrams, tables, drawings, plans, reading and responding to written material.
  2. Working with others - People are an organisation’s most important asset. An organisation needs staff who are able to adapt to working with a range of different individuals and work together effectively in order to build teams that can be relied upon. Working with others involves co-operating with others, planning team goals, responsibilities and working to these goals within deadlines.
  3. Improving own learning and performance - Employers need staff to be flexible, use their initiative and take ownership of tasks. Increasingly employees have to take responsibility for their own development through processes such as appraisal, extending job roles and adapting to new procedures.
  4. Information technology - The computer has become an essential tool for every business. Using information technology involves preparing and entering information, processing the information by editing and sorting, presenting it in the most appropriate way and evaluating the use of an IT system, including safe working practices. Safe working practices means that everyone who uses IT takes into account Health & Safety requirements.
  5. Problem solving - Problem solving skills are now of greater importance to employees at all levels of operation. For example, junior staff will be expected to deal with simple problems through established procedures, while more senior staff will be expected to develop original and creative approaches to complex problems.
  6. Application of numbers - All organisations deal with numbers on a daily basis, sometimes by handling cash, checking stock or meeting production targets. The skill of number work includes collecting and recording numerical data, tackling problems using calculations and interpreting and presenting data.

BT and The Prince’s Trust Volunteers

BT has linked up with The Prince’s Trust Volunteers to support modern apprentices in developing their Key Skills. This project has helped young people to become more responsible for their own learning and development and has made a dramatic difference to their lives and contribution to work. For example, it has improved the confidence of many young people, helped others to gain promotion and enabled some to tackle tasks they would otherwise have found too challenging.

Department for Education and Employment | Developing key skills for a lifetime of opportunity