What skills do school leavers need to thrive in employment?

In January, Unifrog hosted an International Skills and Enterprise Week, which included a conference attended by over 140 schools in the UK. One of the main highlights was a presentation by guest speaker Adrian Blair. In it, he shed an eye-opening light on what employers want from their new recruits.

Before co-founding, Adrian joined the online food delivery service JustEat in 2011, back when they were still fairly small. Today, they’re the 30th most valuable company in the UK.

If, as a teen, Adrian had told his father that he wanted to work for a company that helped people to order food straight to their door, using a tool that wasn’t invented yet, his father might have raised an eyebrow. Likewise, many jobs popular with graduates today – well-paid, rewarding jobs such as app developer, SEO analyst and social media manager – didn’t even exist when those graduates were at school. And there will be jobs available in a few years’ time that we’d struggle to conceive of today.

This is pretty darn exciting for school leavers, but it means an extra level of responsibility for education providers, who now need to equip young people with a core set of transferable skills that can be applied to any future role.

Skills sought by employers

So, which skills should be nurtured? According to Adrian, the top six skills sought by employers are analytical, communication, interpersonal, leadership, a positive attitude, and teamwork. In addition to these, he identified three key attributes that are frequently found amongst the young recruits who thrive:
  • Energy and the ability to overcome setbacks, underpinned by a habit of hard work.
  • Creativity and the ability to challenge the status quo, underpinned by the ability to think across disciplines.
  • Adaptability underpinned by a growth mindset.
It’s debatable whether all of these skills can be taught through traditional methods, but it’s worth noting that at least four of them are based on how we interact with others. Most group activities, whether in the classroom or extracurricular, give students the opportunity to develop their communication, interpersonal, leadership and teamwork skills. If schools can foster a community that encourages these skills, the final step is to help students to identify, develop and demonstrate them on applications.

There are some excellent resources out there to help. helps students develop these skills through employer-led sessions, and Unifrog is a platform that allows students to search for opportunities, record key skills and track progress – all in one place. In particular, our ‘Activities’ and ‘Competencies’ tools allow students to record key developments, making the final step – evidencing skills on applications – far easier.

Michelle Butterworth
Web Content Manager, Unifrog
Posted: 04/03/2019 11:46:48