Skills for work

Employability skills means having developed the capacity to obtain or create work and whether you are a school leaver, a college or university graduate, your qualifications, regardless of grades or level of pass are simply not enough to ensure that you are employable or that you can pursue a career path of your dreams.

Stakeholders with an interest in improving employability prospects of school leavers and college/university graduates believe that while gaining qualifications is of primary importance:

‘It is important that all courses, and particularly courses with fewer positive employment destinations, integrate employability, careers and life skills into courses so that young people are better able to compete in the labour market when they leave education’. 


‘A term that refers to skills, behaviours, attitudes and personal attributes that are necessary for an individual to seek, gain and sustain employment and function effectively in the workplace and are transferable to a variety of contexts.  Employability skills prepare individuals for work rather than for a specific occupation.’

The language of skills for work is complex, with phrases such as personal skills, core skills and employability skills all in common use. Employability is considered mainly as a subset of essential skills.

Though there are few detailed definitions in place about what specifically constitutes the ‘skills, behaviours, attitudes and personal attributes’, there are several common strands within employability initiatives or projects.  These focus primarily on:

Employability work skills being practised by a group of new employees
  • Having a clear understanding of the expectations of the workplace, through, for example, work placement or links with employers;
  • The career management or job search skills developed by an individual to help with finding work or to further their career such as preparation for job applications, research into careers and networking;
  • Developing the personal skills and capacities needed for successful, sustained employment, such as good communication, punctuality, integrity, tenacity, loyalty creativity, teamwork and personal advocacy skills;

The skills needed to succeed in the workplace are primarily developed through good prior knowledge of the job market and the expectations of the workplace - a useful reality check about pace, deadlines, hard work, challenging relationships and so on.

While the importance of having the right qualification and vocation skills is seen as important, being able to talk to people, to learn new things and to present oneself well are considered equally important attributes.  Effective core skills, particularly oral or written communication skills are considered key to succeeding in the job application process.  These generic aspects can be summarised as a ‘positive attitude’.

It may also be useful for you to view our web site page ‘Skills employers look for’.

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Different industry sectors demand different skillsets – personal as well as technical.  Most employer surveys do, however, note that personal skills have at least equal rating with technical skills or qualifications for example;

In the Confederation of British Industries Education and Skills Survey : 2015, employers state:‘By far the most important factors employers weigh up when recruiting school and college leavers are attitudes (85%) and aptitudes (58%).  These rank well ahead of formal qualifications’. 1

In summary, you need to understand what skills for work are and then how to demonstrate to potential employers that you have the required knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes.

 Business woman running late demonstrating time management as part of soft skills training program


Career skills development shown by student creating their own brand


Curriculo Solutions is working hard to create a culture where young people have the knowledge and understanding to identify their personal qualities, strengths and skills and the ability to use this information to make informed, meaningful and timely decisions about their career, in a confident way, with real clarity and a strong sense of purpose.

Where young people aspire to ‘be great’ - to be the best they can be within their field and where they can actively contribute to society whilst supporting themselves.

The products and services from Curriculo Solutions help young people to navigate their way through education into the world of work by helping them to appreciate and develop these qualities, strengths and skills.

Contact us using the address or go directly to our website and take our course The Curriculo Industry Engagement Programme. Read all about it here: