Careers Week 2020: Celebrating Employability Skills

Monday 2 March will mark the launch of this year’s National Careers Week. National Careers Week is celebrated across the UK with the view of embedding good careers education in schools and colleges. Pioneered by National Careers Week CIC and supported by businesses such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, NHS and the British Army, National Careers Week is growing each year and encourages a cross section of stakeholders to take responsibility for the employability skills of young people.

Careers strategies and employability skills development

In addition to this initiative, education providers are encouraged further to develop their strategy for careers education and employability skills by aligning themselves to the Gatsby benchmarks, a set of 8 actions which providers are encouraged to follow to ensure that their careers provision meets a high standard.

The 8 benchmarks are:

  1. A stable careers programme
    2. Learning from career and labour market information
    3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
    4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
    5. Encounters with employers and employees
    6. Experiences of workplaces
    7. Encounters with further and higher education
    8. Personal guidance

Since the launch of the benchmarks and increased focus on learner employability, the drive to ensure that the workforce of the future is capable of meeting the demands of the workplace is gathering momentum. This includes ensuring that all career paths have equal representation across the rich and varied routes that young people could go on to undertake when they leave school.

The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) has released in their report Careers and enterprise provision in England’s colleges 2019 which has shown that colleges in particular are improving their careers strategies and are demonstrating some strong evidence against the key deliverables.

Data from the report has shown encouraging trends including:

  • 81% of FE colleges are providing an encounter for all or most learners every year (Benchmark 5), compared to 67% in 2017/18.
  • 58% of FE colleges are providing all or most learners with experiences of the workplaces (Benchmark 6), compared to 52% in 2017/18.

FE Week published the full report which can be viewed on their website.

How your organisation can support good careers guidance

Building relationships is key to ensuring you can meet the requirements for good career guidance. Ensure that you include or involve yourself within your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). LEPs have a vested interest in encouraging economic growth in their area and will have a wide range of skills, expertise and knowledge to share. Find your LEP using the LEP network website and take a look at their priorities and objectives. This is a good indicator of emerging industries in your area and opportunities to develop relationships that will benefit your learners.

You can also find and make use of the toolkits available to you including those for colleges, schools from the CEC.  

Understanding your learners’ employability skills

Alongside a robust careers strategy, developing employability skills and ensuring learners are workplace ready is essential. Whether a learner is undertaking compulsory education, an apprenticeship, re-entering the workplace or retraining, providers can support those learners to understand and their skills, identify areas for improvement and develop those skills.

Skills Forward can help you to assess employability skills

Skills Work is a baseline employability skills test which has been aligned to the 7 key employability skills as outlined by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The test will help educators to identify a learner’s strengths and weaknesses and provide a skills plan based on the areas that need improvement with the support of innovative resources. The system also allows for progress tracking to measure the impact of intervention.

Alongside our work at Skills Forward which supports employability, I am delighted to also be a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP), a membership body which is dedicated to supporting the people who support others gain work, progress in work and retain work. The fellowship recognises the recipient as a person of standing and influence in the employability sector. My actions, and the actions of Skills Forward, are embedded in the development of employability skills and sustaining a workforce that is ready and able for the challenges our developing world presents.

To find out more about Skills Work, you can watch our introductory video.

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