Developing transferable skills is key to unlocking the world of work

Posted on 17th May 2022 in School News, Which London School?

Amanda Glubb, Head of Careers at Mayfield School, looks at the qualities that equip students for their future careers.

In years to come it will be interesting to see how the pandemic is presented. Despite being a period without precedent, many positives have materialised: the speed at which people of all generations upskilled their use of technology to maintain communication; team working and academic excellence creating vaccines in record time; and the care and support people have shown for each other, whether through small local acts of kindness, or national campaigns to ensure children do not go hungry during school holidays. People have demonstrated creative responses to problem-solving, the flexibility to adapt, and resilience in the face of ongoing adversity. It is not surprising perhaps that not only are these the skills we need to survive and thrive as humans, but they are also the transferable skills employers look for in their workforce.

When you consider that, fundamentally, the role of schools is to educate and prepare children for the transition into the adult world – which for most is the world of work – it seems strange that some schools have not always given careers education the focus it deserves. Now more than ever, all young people need to be able to make informed choices about their future. Now more than ever, educators have a duty to ensure their students leave their establishments not only with good qualifications, but career-ready as well.

Careers education plays an important role at Mayfield. Pupils are encouraged to be aspirational, to challenge stereotypes, to build on their strengths and to use their skills in the service of others, on both a local and global stage. The soft or transferable skills they acquire and develop through co-curricular activities are as important as hard knowledge. Involvement in sports clubs, drama productions, art shows, musical concerts, Model United Nations conferences, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme, or Mayfield’s own ‘Actions not Words’ programme, all help young people to learn about themselves and develop valuable transferable skills.

At Mayfield, careers knowledge and understanding is built using a collaboration of teachers, parents, alumnae, employers, representatives from business, UK and overseas universities, and careers professionals. The thinking behind the approach is three-pronged: to engender self-awareness, opportunity awareness and an agile mind-set. Coined by businesses to encapsulate what they need in their workforce, employees with an agile mind-set are those who are open-minded, learning oriented, willing to reflect on strengths and weaknesses, and have a positive attitude towards change and development. These attributes are useful for budding entrepreneurs as well as employees, of course.

Academic or vocational attainment is, as ever, the knock on the employment door; but an agile mind-set and strong transferable skills will get you through it and into the role you want.

This article first appeared in the 2022/23 edition of Which London School? & the South-East, which you can read in full below: