What are employers looking for?

What employers really want – it’s an age old question with a seemingly endless list of possible responses and accompanying challenges. Problem solving? Motivation? Resilience? Confidence? Literacy and numeracy? Digital skills? All of the above?

Well, when we simplify it down, employers – no matter what industry they operate in – are looking for talent. They want talent that works for the changing needs of their business. Talent they can grow and cultivate. What’s more, this talent does not always mean qualifications evidenced by a piece of paper – it means transferable, usable skills, values and competency.

These skills are also known as “soft skills” and can be hard to identify or write down on a piece of paper (or maybe in today’s world, type into a computer or tablet!). The even trickier part of this is that if these skills are hard to identify at first, they’re even harder to measure and then in turn, nurture and develop.

Self-perception and resilience are becoming more and more vital in a highly competitive labour market. It is so important for applicants to assess their own unique strengths and weaknesses and really know what they can offer to potential employers. It’s equally important for them to be able to bounce back from set-backs in an ever changing world.

Transferable skills have always been something that employers have been interested in as it not only shows that you can adapt easily to new surroundings but also that you can use skills you have already gained in one job and transfer them to the next. This is even more relevant today with recent research showing that millennials may change careers up to 15 times in their lifetime, with a constant need for taking stock, upskilling and reskilling.

I’m sure you’ve heard Industry 4.0 being talked about increasingly regularly in the news. This is an industrial revolution unlike any that we have experienced before. Many people say that the fourth revolution, focused on technology and how this will be incorporated into industry, will see jobs being wiped out as we become replaced by robots! Whilst undoubtedly, we will obviously see the streamlining of processes through the use of technology, we will also actually see the creation of new jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. This of course brings with it, a necessity for a whole new level of digital literacy in employees, and (more importantly) a solid base level of ‘soft skills’ to build upon. After all, you can’t teach someone to engage with artificial intelligence (for example) before they’ve demonstrated basic skills and behaviours such as confidence or communication.

Looking towards the future, the qualifications that employers seek will change over time but the skills and competencies that they demand never will. Reliability, a willingness to learn, communication, working to deadlines, teamwork, a good understanding of English and maths – these basic skills really cannot be underestimated.

Richard Branson has quoted many times “give people the skills they need to leave you, but treat them so they don’t want to.” With this in mind, what about the skills they already have inside of them that can be unlocked and developed within the first phases of their career?

Your talent should never be defined by a piece of paper – you are your talent, your unique talent and that is what employers want.

Now you just need to show them.

Skills Work is an employability assessment which will enable you to identify and agree your learners’ baseline strengths and weaknesses, and then design tailored and personal learning plans based on those areas for further development. You can accurately track distance travelled from the start to the end of their course to support action planning and measure impact.

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