How to build a prize winning skill set building a brick wall

How to build a prize winning skill set

You wouldn’t go out in a storm without the necessary wet weather gear, so why approach the jobs market without the required skills? Find out how to develop a skill set that turns employers’ heads with Direct Line for Business and WorldSkills UK.

You wouldn’t go out in a storm without the necessary wet weather gear, so why approach the jobs market without the required skills?

WorldSkills UK champions young people, helping them to attain world-class apprenticeships and develop technical skills by engaging them in skills competitions, events and challenges to increase their employability.

Here, they discuss how building a prize-winning skills set can ensure that when you enter the world of work the forecast is sunny.

What is employability?

After all your years of learning you want to feel confident that one day it will count for something in the workplace.

It’s important to know that you are equipped to contribute to the workplace and earn yourself a living and to do that you need to be employable. So what is employability?

In short, employability is a combination of the skills and qualities you need to be a desirable prospect to a potential employer.

Factors affecting employability in the UK

How employable you are depends upon several factors:

  • whether you have the required practical skills that mean you can do the job you want,
  • whether you have the required experience, and
  • whether you have the personal qualities that would benefit your potential employer.

So why are employability skills so important?

Well, without the right skills set for the area in which you want to specialise and develop, finding the right future work will be very challenging. That’s why it’s important to commit to the right apprenticeship during which you can evolve the qualities, skills and experience in your chosen area.

Top 10 employability skills 

If you’re looking to go into one of the trades there are some skills that are transferable, whether you’re training to become a bricklayer or a carpenter.

1. Communication is key 

Being a competent communicator is a key skill in almost any industry. Explaining what you mean effectively and clearly and being a good listener is essential to excelling in a job.

2. Getting to the root of a problem 

Problem solving is essential in skilled trades. If you are able to break down problems and discover the key issue then it makes it much easier for you to solve.

3. Effective negotiation

Being unemotional and a clear communicator, while taking on board the views of others, helps everyone to work together smoothly and make progress.

4. Diversity and difference

You’ll work with a variety of different people with different needs and offerings, so it’s important to be conscious of diversity in the workplace to ensure effective and valuable ways of working.

5. Numeracy

Most skilled trades require a fair degree of proficiency with numbers in the day to day operation of your role, but also in working out costs and budgets.

6. Using initiative

Employers like staff who aren’t dependent on them to make every decision. Being able to weigh up the pros and cons of a situation to make an informed choice is a desirable quality in a candidate.

7. Learning and adapting

Making mistakes is part of the learning process, but it’s the ability to apply that learning to future scenarios that appeals to employers.

8. Team working 

Collaborating constructively with colleagues and accommodating different ideas and positions to move towards a shared goal is an immensely important skill.

9. Pressure and deadlines 

Deadlines can sometimes be tight, so keeping a cool head is essential if you don’t want the quality of your work to suffer from the pressure.

10. Being organised

Independently managing your workload and prioritising your tasks helps you to work efficiently. Being able to anticipate how long a task will take and factoring in contingencies will mean you can work more efficiently.

What is a skill set?

Each of the above skills contributes to being an effective worker who is desirable to employers.

But what is a skill set?

A useful skill set definition would be: a combination of skills essential to help you perform well in your role.

Skill set examples

A good example is that of a carpenter.

If you become a carpenter then good numeracy skills are essential, but so are problem solving skills, good communication skills and using your initiative.

Likewise, if you are a plumber, then again numeracy skills are key (for instance, managing water pressure, pipe capacity and so on), as well as being well organised.

How’s your skill set?

If you are currently thinking about beginning an apprenticeship that will prepare you for training for a particular trade, or if you are already preparing to work in that trade while on your apprenticeship, then it’s important for you to reflect on the skills you already possess and identify the gaps in your skills set that you need to fill to secure your desired job.

If you are training or want to train as a construction worker, for example, then team working, learning and adapting, prioritising tasks, using initiative and getting to the root of a problem are core requirements.

Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular way for young people to learn the skills employers are looking for.

If you’re interested in starting your career this way, take a look at our Tools of the Trade hub.

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Last Updated: 05 Aug 2016