Developing employability skills at school

Posted in News & Press  ·  27th June 2024

In today’s competitive job market, developing employability skills from a young age is crucial. While academic achievements are important, soft skills like reliability, attitude, communication skills, appearance, and teamwork often play a pivotal role in career success. Here’s how young people can hone these skills during their school years and why they matter in the workplace.

Understanding the basics

Reliability: Being dependable means meeting deadlines, showing up on time, and fulfilling responsibilities consistently. In school, students can practice reliability by submitting assignments on time and attending classes regularly. For example, a student who consistently meets project deadlines demonstrates to future employers that they can be counted on to deliver results.

Attitude: A positive attitude fosters a productive work environment and makes collaboration easier. Students can cultivate this by staying motivated, showing enthusiasm for their subjects, and handling setbacks gracefully. An optimistic outlook and a willingness to learn are highly valued in any professional setting.

Communication Skills: Effective communication involves both listening and expressing ideas clearly. Students can enhance these skills through group projects, presentations, and participating in class discussions. For instance, leading a group project helps develop the ability to convey ideas and motivate peers, a key skill in any workplace.

Appearance: First impressions are often based on appearance. Maintaining a neat and professional look can make a significant impact. Schools that enforce uniform policies or dress codes help students understand the importance of dressing appropriately, a habit that translates well into professional environments.

Teamwork: Collaborating with others towards a common goal is essential in almost every job. Schools provide numerous opportunities for teamwork through sports, group assignments, and extracurricular activities. Successfully working in a team to win a sports tournament or complete a challenging project showcases one’s ability to cooperate and contribute effectively.

The value of these skills in the workplace

Academic qualifications can open doors, but soft skills ensure success within those opportunities. The UK Employer Skills Survey 2022 highlighted that employers often seek candidates who not only have the necessary qualifications but also possess strong soft skills. These skills are essential because:

  1. Reliability: Employers need staff they can trust to complete tasks without constant supervision.
  2. Positive Attitude: A positive mindset enhances workplace morale and productivity.
  3. Effective Communication: Clear communication prevents misunderstandings and facilitates smooth operations.
  4. Professional Appearance: Presenting oneself well can influence perceptions and foster respect.
  5. Teamwork: Collaborative skills lead to better project outcomes and innovative solutions.

Practical examples

Consider a graduate with a top degree but poor communication skills. Despite their qualifications, they might struggle in roles requiring teamwork and client interaction. Conversely, a candidate with good communication and teamwork skills, even with average grades, might excel in the same role due to their ability to collaborate and engage effectively.


The development of employability skills at school lays the foundation for a successful career. These soft skills not only complement academic achievements but often surpass them in importance once in the workplace. For aspiring entrepreneurs, these skills are even more critical, as they involve leading teams, communicating visions, and maintaining a professional image.

Investing in these skills early on prepares young people for the dynamic demands of the modern workforce, ensuring they are not just employable but also poised for long-term success.

For more detailed insights, you can refer to the UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2022 and other resources from the Skills for Life Network.

Back to blog home