Students might still rest their hopes of landing their dream job on the A-level results they receive tomorrow, but qualifications are only part of the story for employers.
Employers are placing more emphasis on essential skills, like teamwork, presenting and problem-solving, but these are often difficult to assess at the recruitment and selection stage.
In response, leading organisations from the education and employment sectors (the CIPD, The Careers & Enterprise Company, Business in the Community, the Gatsby Foundation, EY Foundation and the Skills Builder Partnership) have come together for the first time to agree a universal framework for essential skills.
It will build on the Skills Builder Framework, already used by over 700 organisations, and set out the skills needed to thrive at work, as well as how these can be assessed and developed. It can be used by students, workers and employers.
The benefits of the universal framework for essential skills include:
• Making educators aware of the skills employers want and need so they can ensure students are well equipped to join the workforce
• Helping employers to hire the right people and providing candidates with a better idea of the skills required to succeed in a role
• Showing what progression looks like for each of these different skills so that employers can map out how to upskill or reskill their workers.
Employers are taking a more rounded approach when assessing people’s skill set given the increasing use of technology in the workplace. While they recognise that automation can replace repetitive roles, it can’t compete with humans when it comes to more creative and complex tasks which require these essential skills.
Matthew Taylor, the RSA’s chief executive and champion of this project, called for a framework like this to be introduced in his review of Modern Working Practices.
Employers from a range of different sectors will be consulted about the framework and it will go through several development stages. The final version is expected to be published in spring 2020.
Sir John Holman, Chair of the Essential Skills Task Force, said:
“If you ask employers what they are looking for in the people they hire, they increasingly specify essential skills like communication and teamwork. They take for granted that employees must have sound educational qualifications, and what makes the difference is the higher order essential skills which a machine cannot offer.
“By producing a universal framework of essential skills that are clear, measurable and authoritative, we will give employers a toolkit that they can use to select and train the employees they need to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. Equally importantly, it will be a toolkit that schools, colleges and universities can use to help the students develop these skills.”
Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, said:
“With the nature of work continuing to evolve, it is challenging to predict exactly what technical abilities and skills will be needed in years to come. However, there’s growing recognition that the core skills, which are essentially human and behavioural, will be vital in almost all jobs and roles.
“The work of the task force is an important step towards achieving a common understanding of these essential skills from education right through to our workplaces. Establishing a framework and a common language for these skills is vital in creating the clarity we need to achieve more productive, high-performing workplaces that enable people whatever their backgrounds to feel engaged and empowered in their jobs.’’
Christine Hodgson, Chairman of Capgemini in the UK, Chairman of The Careers & Enterprise Company and a trustee of Business in the Community, said:
“As an employer, we want to make sure we’re recruiting people with the right skills to thrive in the 21st century workplace. But without a common language and shared understanding, it can be difficult for employers to identify easily or communicate what they’re looking for. And it’s harder for schools to make sure they’re focusing on developing the right skills. By helping schools, young people and employers all pull in the same direction, this work will help us prepare young people for the fast-changing world of work.”