Author Topic: Developing Employability Skills  (Read 657 times)

Monirul Islam

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Developing Employability Skills
« on: May 15, 2018, 12:40:35 PM »
A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

 Steve Jobs

Although we have been talking about skills as a part of the collection of qualities that combine to make you an individual, this does not mean that these skills are as fixed as your height, or as difficult to change as the shape of your nose. Personal skills can be acquired, developed and improved.

A shy person may be able to speak fluently and confidently when discussing a subject (e.g. politics; a favourite writer) which they know well and feel strongly about; somebody who considers themselves "hopeless at maths" on the grounds of a low GCSE grade may happily work out their living expenses for each term and evaluate the various loan options available. Your interests may also influence the skills that you choose to develop.

You should now have a short-list of skills that you wish to improve: you may also have noted down some ways in which you might do this. These could include the following:-
Through extra-curricular activities e.g.
Teamwork (in a sports team, organising a society event);
Lateral Thinking (thinking of ways to raise money during Rag Week);
Writing (writing for the student newspaper).
The University of Kent Student Development Unit www.su.kent.ac.uk/sdu has a range of activities here which can help such as Student Tutoring in local schools.

Through your home life
e.g. Organisation and Planning (combining running a home and family with your studies if you are a mature student).
Through your course
Course projects, dissertations and extended essays can be particularly valuable here. As well as the skills of independent research, and planning and organising your own work which they bring, sometimes you can choose the topic so that it is relevant to the type of work you wish to enter, giving a strong plus point for your CV.
Analytical skills: the ability to debate and argue a case interpreting complex material; picking out inconsistencies in reasoning; analysing data from an experiment.
Written Communication: expressing yourself clearly, using language with precision; constructing a logical argument; writing reports; proper writing up of experiments and projects.
Verbal Communication: entering into discussion and debate in seminars; expressing yourself clearly and confidently; thinking quickly.
Investigating: gathering material for essays; comparing sources of information and selecting from them to support your argument; using databases to search for material; researching for a project.
Numeracy: interpreting and constructing statistics; analysing data and presenting it in graphical format.
Planning and Organising: managing the workload of several courses simultaneously; meeting essay deadlines; designing and carrying out surveys; balancing academic work with extra-curricular activities and/or employment.
Teamwork: group projects, seminars.
Information Technology: entering data onto a spreadsheet, using the Internet to find information. Designing a web page. Programming.
Technical Skills: knowledge of specific techniques. e.g. NMR, chromatography, practical lab. skills developed on placements.
Through work shadowing
e.g. Investigating (talking to people about their work); Decision Making (whether or not to pursue this career further).
The University of Kent Careers Network can help with this. See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/careersnetwork.htm

Through vacation and part-time work
While it is possible to get vacation work experience with relevant employers (e.g. accountants, computer companies) financial pressures mean that most students have to take any vac. job they can get. Later on, when they make applications for permanent jobs and employers enquire about their work experience, they find it hard to believe that these jobs can be of relevance to their future career.

Students often say "I haven't done any real vacation work - not anything that would be relevant to a career - just a bit of shop work, bar work, waiting on tables and so on. I couldn't put anything like that on an application form".

But what employers tell us is that they do value this type of work experience and wish that students would make more of it on their application forms!

Here are some of the skills that you might gain from shop, bar or restaurant work:
Dealing with customers (courtesy, social confidence, tact)
Handling money (numeracy, integrity)
Working under pressure
Organisation & planning (to meet peak demand)
Some popular employers (the Civil Service, solicitors’ firms) recruit early. The best opportunities for taking part in employers' undergraduate vacation training schemes are available in the summer vacation after your second year - but you may need to apply for these opportunities before the Christmas vacation in some instances.

Source: https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/skillsdevelop.htm