Employability skills are skills that make you much more employable to a company. In other words, these are core skills that you ideally need for the workplace.
There are ten key employability skills that I suggest to job seekers who are looking for work, and that I recommend to corporate trainers who are looking to provide training for companies.
The 10 core employability skills that I often recommend are as follows:
- Communication skills
- Computer Skills
- Empathy and social skills
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
- Time management
- Leadership skills
- Creativity skills
Why Are Employability Skills Important?
Employability skills are important from three different points of view.
As a job seeker – having experience in core employability skills gives you an opportunity to stand out. Many job seekers these days have degrees and work experience related to the job being applied for. Employability skills though give you more depth and a much better chance to succeed in getting the job.
As a company – the more skilled your workforce in these core skills, the more likely you will have a more productive workforce, in addition to a happier workforce. Managers who, for example, have a good understanding of ‘Communication Skills’ and ‘Resilience Skills’ will be better leaders.
As a corporate trainer – employability skills are a great opportunity to provide workshops and training sessions in-house as a freelance trainer. ‘Resilience training’ is particularly relevant and in-demand these days. Likewise, communication skills including ‘Intercultural Communication‘ and ‘Advanced Communication Skills’ are always in demand.
Employability Skills Training Worth Teaching or Learning
Let’s look at each of the ten employability skills we mentioned earlier.
1. Communication Skills
Communication skills have always been essential in the workplace but they are increasingly essential in this global world.
Being able to communicate and deal with colleagues and customers from different counties, cultures, backgrounds, and age groups means that communication is harder than it was in the past.
Consider age groups, for example. As we talk about in the Generational Diversity post, we are now seeing five different generations in the workplace at the same time.
The differences in the skills, background, and ages of employees hence mean that employees in your workplace might have different ways of interpreting things, speaking, and thinking.
Training employees in these areas below are a few examples of training that can help with communication in the workplace:
- Managing Different Generations in the Workplace – to make communication and understanding better between all staff no matter what decade they were born in.
- Intercultural Communication – to help staff embrace and understand how to communicate with other people no matter what their background or culture.
- How to Give Constructive Feedback training – to teach staff (especially managers) how to communicate feedback the right way.
- How to Manage Virtual teams and employees.
If you are looking to be a team leader or manager, it is also well worth having some experience in managing meetings online such as with one or more of the following:
- MS Teams
- Skype for Business
2. Computer Skills
No matter what job you are doing or planning to do these days, the chances are that some interaction with a computer or some form of technology is needed.
If you are Generation Y or Z, then you will have been brought up in the era of the Internet and smartphones, and using computers is far less scary in terms of learning new I.T. or computer-based skills.
Moving forward, if you have any of the computer skills below, this will aid your employability:
- MS Office (such as MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel)
- Any experience of database software can be particularly advantageous to have (such as if you have skills or training in MySQL, Access, Oracle, or Microsoft Access)
- Presentation software skills (such as PowerPoint, Google Slides, or another package)
- Social Media Management Skills – whether it be being an expert in Pinterest, Instragram, Facebook, or Twitter for marketing a business
3. Empathy and Social Skills
‘Empathy’ is a term that is increasingly important and especially when it comes to training managers.
Empathy is concerned with being able to understand how another person might be feeling and through this understanding, being able to better communicate and manage others.
Quite often, empathy is a part of the Emotional Intelligence training materials that some companies offer, as empathy is a part of EQ training.
As mental health awareness is given more consideration in the workplace, training in empathy skills is only going to become more important over time.
4. Critical Thinking Skills
Critical Thinking is another increasingly useful skill to have and in interviews, if you can show good examples of critical thinking. then it certainly adds to your employability.
So what are critical thinking skills and why are they important?
Critical thinking is all about being able to step aside from your own personal feelings and emotions in order to look at a situation with open eyes and to look at the facts.
The difficulty with facts of course is that they are open to different viewpoints that are based on our epistemology (meaning how we interpret the same data and get different results because we each have a viewpoint and this directs how we analyze things and thus interpret information).
So, having the skills and frame of mind where you are able to take raw facts and make good and unbiased decisions is a particularly useful skill.
Some key areas in critical thinking skills are:
- Intepretation (and normalisation)
As a trainer, ‘Critical Thinking’ skills is a topic that is often of interest to HR departments who provide workplace training.
As a job-seeker, if you can provide examples in your CV/Resume of being good at critical thinking skills, then you are more employable.
5. Problem Solving
Being a good problem solver is another incredibly useful skill and one that employers need.
Solving problems has become more difficult and complex in recent years with the workplace being one that sometimes involves:
- a physical space and online space (with remote workers)
- customers from countries worldwide given the global online marketplace
- employees from a diverse range of countries and cultures
So, solving problems in the workplace is not just about solving specific work tasks related to a product or service but also managing a diverse workforce that is sometimes not in the same physical space as you.
Problem-solving skills often need to incorporate the critical thinking skills we talked about in the previous point, in addition to using skills such as:
- Active Listening Skills
- Emotional Intelligence skills
- Knowing how to manage virtual teams
- Communication Skills
6. Time Management Skills
Time Management is not a new skill but it remains one that is essential and it is always likely to be.
As a corporate trainer, this is always a great topic to provide workshops in and you can offer this as a 2 hour, 1/2 day, or full-day training session.
Time management skills include the following:
- Scheduling and prioritising tasks
- Understanding and using SMART Goals
- Being able to finding techniques for maximising time
- Having the ability to motivate people you manage, to guide them towards avoiding procrastination and to be time efficient
7. Leadership Skills
Leadership Skills are essential if you are managing or looking to manage other employees and there are a number of topics that come under this category.
Having experience in any of these Leadership Skills can be especially useful, particularly so if you are applying for a management position. The leadership skills that are worth including on your CV/resume are:
- Delegation Skills – essential for ensuring your team are productive
- Presentation skills and experience can be invaluable. Being able to communicate what you need your team to do and to understand, is essential.
8. Ethics Skills
Being able to show experience or proof of personal ethics is another employability skill that is worth considering and trying to get onto your resume.
The following buzz words are particularly useful in terms of ethical skills:
- Ethical reasoning
9. Resilience Skills
For employability, Resilience skills are also an asset if you can show adaptability and the ability to take on new challenges and handle any pressures.
Resilience skills are essential for companies, given that they need managers who are able to successfully manage no matter what the working and market conditions.
10. Creativity Skills
Creativity is an essential employability skill because creativity is often the solution to many workplace issues.
So, in this sense, creativity refers to the ability to come up with creative ideas rather than meaning creative in an art sense.
Good managers and leaders are able to think out of the box and sometimes find unconventional solutions.
Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds
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