Skills and employability

Top ten skills

These skills and abilities are useful for everyday life and work. They can be developed in a range of ways. It might be through life experience, learning, volunteering or on the job.

Businesses value these abilities and might ask you about them in interviews. They also have benefits for your learning journey. Click on the drop down to discover what each one means.

We can help you to gain some of these skills that you feel you might need to help you with learning or work.  

Having a positive attitude

Being considerate

During volunteering, learning or working, it's important to be considerate of others. This includes not being offensive or causing harm. It's good if you're open and willing to work with others. Some learning environments and businesses have guidelines about the behaviours they expect.

Being respectful to your team and customers

Being polite and listening well can make a big impact. It's good when we respond in a way that shows respect to the person speaking to us. This is part of treating other people well. It helps us to avoid being offensive or aggressive.

Being trustworthy, responsible and reliable

It builds a positive impression when we meet expectations. We do this by following the rules and taking care of our responsibilities. Over time, we show the people that we work with that they can trust us. Because they've seen us do this many times, they know we're reliable.

Supporting others

When we're learning, working or volunteering, we all need to work together to get our tasks done. Sometimes you might need help with tasks. Or you might have a health condition. If you need help, you should talk to the person that is leading your team. This might be your manager, tutor or volunteer co-ordinator.

Being motivated and committed

Being on time and ready to get started

To build a good reputation, it's important to turn up on time, ready to get started. If there's a problem, you should let your team know. This could be your manager, tutor or volunteer co-ordinator. By letting them know in advance, they can make new plans or ask if you need any support.

Being flexible and adapting to changes

If something unexpected happens, plans can change. This means that teams might have to work on something different. Being flexible and adaptable helps us to respond to changes and get the job done. Sometimes you might need to change the way you do a task, or pick up something new to work on.

Completing tasks well

Working on something new can be difficult. Being motivated and committed means that we try to complete tasks as well as we can. If you're not sure how you should handle a task, or what a good outcome looks like, you should ask.

Managing a good work-life balance

A good work-life balance is key to looking after ourselves. It's important that we look after our physical and mental health. Resting and spending time doing things that we enjoy in our free time can make a big difference. If you have a health condition or disability, you might need some support to stay safe and well when you’re learning, working or volunteering.

Having ambition and goals

Motivation to grow skills and ability

It's important that people have goals. This helps us to make good progress and grow our skills on the way. Seeing how tasks or actions contribute to our goals gives meaning to why we do certain things. It helps to avoid feeling like we're doing things because it's what we've been told.

Learning new skills

Opportunities to learn new skills improves our abilities. When we're positive about these opportunities, we tend to listen and learn better. This means that we can use what we've learned to complete tasks well. If you're worried, talk to the person that's teaching you. That helps them to address your worries or offer support.

Taking pride in our work

Starting something new and meeting people can be intimidating. Try to be yourself and do the best you can. Being open and honest if you're struggling can help.  It means that people in your team can offer support if you need it. Celebrate yourself when you do something well and work towards your goals.

Being presentable

Take notice of how you're expected to dress or act. Many learning environments, jobs or volunteering roles have different expectations. It's important that we follow these. It helps to influence how other people think about us. Sometimes, there are health and safety reasons for these expectations. If you're not sure what's expected, make sure to ask.

Bouncing back after challenges

Staying calm in stressful situations

It can be difficult to feel comfortable in stressful situations. It's important for our wellbeing that we can manage our thoughts and feelings. Staying calm and remembering what we need to do can help us to stay on track. If it becomes too difficult, you should speak to a manager, tutor or volunteer co-ordinator.

Sticking at difficult tasks

When things go wrong, or challenges arise, it's important to keep going. As well as staying calm, sticking at it helps us to overcome problems. It's a great feeling when we're able to resolve issues. Sometimes you might need help to manage a difficult situation. If you do, you should talk to a manager, tutor or volunteer co-ordinator.

Being positive when things go wrong

When we've handled a few challenges, we start to feel more confident about our ability. This is sometimes called resilience. It's a good feeling when we trust ourselves to solve problems. It also helps to develop the ways that other people see us.

Learning from what went wrong to build your skills

Learning when things go wrong is a great way to build your skills. It might be something that you experienced, or someone else. Take notice of what went well, or what could be done differently. That helps to develop our knowledge and experience.

Working as a team

Following instructions

Following instructions helps us to complete tasks in the right way. It's important to pay attention to instructions and listen. If the instructions aren't clear, you should ask questions so that you can understand. Working on tasks in the way we're expected can help us to complete them well. It also builds our abilities.

Understanding what you’re responsible for

To work well, we need to know what we're responsible for in the team. This helps us to plan our work and know what tasks are most important. When we know this, we can work well on our own. This means that we don't need to be told what to do.

Working with your team and customers

When working with others, it's good to be able to consider their perspectives. This can help you to resolve any issues and work together. Understanding what our team and customers need teaches us their different expectations. If you're not sure about how to best deal with a situation you can always ask for support.

Planning tasks and time well

Sometimes, there are lots of tasks that we need to work on. We need to know what's most important so we can focus on what to do first. This is something that takes practice. When people see that we can prioritise our tasks, they know that we are capable to manage our work. This can make a great impression on managers, tutors and volunteer co-ordinators.

Being understanding and building relationships

Knowing what to expect

It's best to go into learning, work, or volunteering with clear expectations of what to expect. You can ask your manager, tutors or volunteer co-ordinator to find out more. This helps you to prepare for tasks and responsibilities. It also helps you to know how you can approach these. If you need support, it's always best to ask.

Connecting with others

Speaking to other people is important for building relationships with you team. It's good to be friendly and approachable. Keep communication focused on your learning, work or volunteering role. Introducing yourself is a great way to make a good first impression. You might feel nervous at first, but try to focus on ways to feel more confident.

Confidence in yourself and your skills

Everyone has skills that they are good at. We also have skills that we’d like to develop. Being confident in our skills and abilities helps us to put them into action. Being aware of what we'd like to improve helps us to feel less nervous. Believing that we can develop often helps us to benefit from learning and training.

Being able to raise concerns or worries

If you feel worried, try to understand what you're nervous about. Think about what you could do to make this easier to manage. It might be that you're worried about meeting new people. You could try to think of ways to introduce yourself.

Ask if you do need support from a manager, tutor or volunteer co-ordinator.

Reading, writing and communication skills

English language skills help us to communicate with others. They help us to read, write, listen and speak well. These skills play an important part of working well on our own, or as part of a team.

An example of language skills is being able to write a job application that shows off your abilities. We can use these speaking skills to talk about our abilities at an interview. We can listen to the interviewer, understand what they are asking, and talk to them about why we'd be good for the job.

Confidence with numbers and everyday maths

Confidence with number makes a difference every day. At home, it helps us to budget or keep track of our finances. In work and volunteering, it helps us to do sums to provide the right change to a customer, for example.

Maths skills help us to solve problems. It might be that we have a list of tasks to complete, and we have to work out how much time we can spend on each one. These skills impact how well we're able to complete tasks and responsibilities.

Digital skills

Digital skills are more important than ever. Being able to stay safe online at home, work or in your volunteering role is crucial. They also help us to access information and stay connected.

For many learning, work or volunteering roles, digital skills are required. It might be reading emails sent from your tutor. It could be using a till to complete orders at work. Or it might be keeping up to date with volunteering activities on social media.

Being able to solve problems

Problem solving helps us to overcome issues. Good problem solving skills help us to identify the cause and come up with a solution.

For example, at home you might be struggling to register for a new account. You might search online for instructions. Following the instructions could help you to solve the problem.

Another example could be that your usual train times have changed. To address the problem, you let your manager, tutor or volunteer co-ordinator know. You search for timetables and find a bus to get you there on time. In that example, you solved the problem through communication and finding another option.