Skip to main content
Generate PDF
Bookmark and Share

Services and support within each Local Authority, Jobcentre Plus or Health Board area.

Employability Skills Development

Employability skills are necessary for obtaining, sustaining and progressing in a job. They include:

  • Basic IT, literacy, and numeracy skills.
  • Soft skills such as communication, team working, customer handling, problem solving, and planning and organising skills.
  • Attributes/behaviours desired by employers such as initiative and flexibility.

Changes in the structure of the UK economy and labour market over the past few decades have made employability skills even more important to have. 

In the UK, there are four main policy areas where the need to develop employability
skills has taken central stage:

  • First, raising employability skills has emerged as an area for attention to improve the transition from full-time education into employment, including school leavers as well as those leaving college and university.
  • Second, employability skills have been identified as a key element to ensuring that the employment and skills system is demand-led.
  • Third, as part of the continuing integration of employment and skills policy there has been recognition that employers are looking for a broader set of generic employability skills and therefore to move unemployed people into sustainable work an approach that looks beyond vocational and technical skills alone is required.
  • Fourth, employability skills have arisen as a theme in debates about promoting career advancement once in employment and tackling the barriers to social mobility.

( Employability Skills: A Research and Policy Briefing, UKCES, 2010)

In developing employability skills, a one size fits all approach is unlikely to generate the best outcomes. Policies and initiatives need to encourage flexibility so that they respond to the specific needs of different people with varying employability requirements and different employers. A number of common elements, however, apply to successful employability policies for all groups.

  • Direct experience of the world of work through placements, tasters or subsidised jobs.
  • Commitment from providers to developing employability skills.
  • Engagement of employers in both the development and implementation of programmes.

( Employability Skills: A Research and Policy Briefing, UKCES, 2010)

According to The Employability Challenge (UKCES 2009) core aspects of developing successful employability programmes include:

  • Experimental action learning: using and understanding the value of skills rather than simply acquiring knowledge.
  • Work experience: preferably through work placements, but otherwise in classroom activity that simulates workplace characteristics.
  • Reflection and integration: preparing to put the employability skills into practice within different environments.