What Are Employability Skills & Why Are They Important?


In my role within DANCOP, the phrase ‘employability skills’ has come up an awful lot. You have no doubt heard it yourself.

When asking learners what this phrase means I am usually met with answers such as ‘skills that get you employed’, ‘the skills you need to do a job’, or even ‘skills employers want you to have’. While not technically wrong, there is a bit more to it than learners initially realise.

‘Employability skills’ are sometimes called ‘soft skills’ or ‘transferable skills’. They are not skills that could be considered part of your job. Instead they are a broad set of general skills and qualities that would enable you to perform well in a work environment and translate into future jobs.
For example, an engineer using software to design a building would not be an example of an employability skill, this is part of their job.

What would be considered an employability skill however, is demonstrating teamwork while completing this task as part of their job or managing their time so that they can complete their tasks for the deadline. This is not the limit of employability skills, as mentioned before the range of skills are extremely vast, and each one is valuable in almost all circumstances!
Here are some examples:

  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Initiative
  • Problem solving
  • Professionalism
  • Perseverance
  • Organisation

The list really could go on, however those are some general examples that employers will look for.

So, we know what the skills are. Now how do we get them? The good news is, they are likely already there. Whether you have just started your first job, or if you have just finished school, you will have some or all of these skills already.

What you need to do is nurture them, become aware of them, and allow them to grow.
This means becoming aware of what you do. If you get split into group work in class at school, think “why does my teacher want me to do this?” and it will be to help you develop in more ways than your subject knowledge of that class. This is nurturing your ability to work as a team.

If you are working at a shop and a customer comes in to pay you for something, you may just think you are doing your job, however there is trust placed in your by your employer. You are representing their company and you are handling their money. This is something incredibly valuable and will reflect well on you when going for future jobs.
This is what employability is all about.

I would encourage you to sit and think about the past week how did you get to school in time for the bell? How did you keep on top of all the coursework you needed to do? This may be ‘business as usual for you’ however, you took steps to ensure that you did these things successfully, whether you planned your morning to get out of the door in time for 7:30am or did 30 minutes of coursework an evening to ensure you had time for other things you needed to do. Become aware of how you interact with people and ensure you are developing these skills, your future self will thank you!

If you have any further questions you can contact us at dancop@chesterfield.ac.uk.

Mike Stritch- Chesterfield DANCOP team