Transferable skills for student success

Mike Hamilton says teachers can help with their students’ future employability by teaching transferable skills

Take a look at any job advert. There will almost always be a list of skills and abilities required. Some will be technical skills and qualifications, but many more will likely describe transferable skills – skills that are relevant and helpful socially, professionally and academically. While highly specialised skills and strong qualifications are, of course, essential to achieving success in certain careers – particularly getting that first foot on the ladder – it is these transferable skills that ensure people do not find themselves unemployable in the long term. 

Teamwork, leadership and organisation are three of the skills most regularly specified by employers – according to a recent survey carried out by the University of Wisconsin, 78% of employers said they look for the ‘ability to work in a team’ when reviewing a CV.  

Schools have a critical role to play in ensuring that pupils are prepared for the workplace. But how can schools ensure they are putting enough focus on teaching life skills, on top of everything else on a packed curriculum?

Teamwork: working together

Much can be done in the context of day-to-day school activities. For example, teachers can encourage group-working in the classroom by setting children tasks and ensuring they share the load to reach their end goal.

Working together helps build relationships, boost motivation and confidence. Working as a team also means understanding others’ ideas and emotions – reading and responding to people is a key skill in all aspects of life.

Leadership: positive role models

For teachers and other school leaders, acting as a positive role model is also important. It’s something we pride ourselves on when working with schools. Modelling outstanding behaviour is key to our success in improving behaviours and inspiring pupils and staff to have a more positive attitude and better self awareness as it gives them something to aspire to.

Reward-based and engaging group working and team activities are also opportunities to give pupils leadership responsibilities in a supportive and structured environment. These can also be integrated into the local community in order to share the school vision. By ensuring that every pupil has a chance to take on such a role, rather than being dominated by the loudest characters, leadership skills can be offered to all. 

Commando Joe’s in action

Organisation: keeping on track

When it comes to time management, organisation and personal motivation, pupils should be encouraged to complete tasks within a set time, whilst receiving encouragement throughout and praise when tasks are completed. Asking children to analyse what could have been done to improve as a group and in a constructive, positive manner will also help to improve organisation for next time. This will not only be beneficial in the classroom, but also when it comes to completing homework on time. The ability to work alone productively is as important as working with others, and so children also need to be encouraged to do their best independently. Giving praise at the right time is a useful tool here – it helps pupils understand what they have achieved and that can have a monumental impact on outcomes. 

It’s important to note that building transferable skills can be greatly facilitated by building character. I firmly believe that developing strength of character during young peoples’ school years helps to prepare them for the future, whatever they choose to do and wherever they choose to go. If a pupil is driven, well-rounded and happy, they have the firmest grounding possible for success in all areas of their life.

Character: building resilience

Our veterans work alongside teachers and pupils to assist and develop a bespoke programme which complements cross-curricular themes to promote character education and instil positive values and boost resilience in pupils. Creating the right environment for pupils to develop positive character traits will enable them to respond well to challenges they face in the future.

When schools inspire helpfulness, a positive attitude, self-awareness and a strong moral compass, together with a breadth of transferable skills, they give their students a real head start when they leave the world of education. By integrating these skills into everyday learning, students start to understand how they translate into real-life situations, and will start to reap the benefits as early as possible.

Mike Hamilton is director of education provider Commando Joe’s    

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