The Value of Transferrable Skills for School Leavers
Yvonne Godfrey – November 2015
The world is changing at a faster pace than we have ever known and this will only become faster as the acquisition of knowledge speeds up along with the competition to use it.
Uber, Alibaba, Air Bnb and Face Book, are examples of ‘virtual business’. These are just a few examples of the way things are changing. There’s no doubt that young people need to be competitive in a world that is looking for innovation and skills.
My guess is that in the future there will be fewer employees and more contractors. Businesses are looking for ways to not have employees that cost a lot and are hard to get rid of if they don’t work out. Based on my estimation that people will compete for contracts versus jobs, the most important skills to master are ‘transferrable skills’ which are valuable in any role.
The ability to pitch a proposal for a contract, correctly understand the brief, offer the right skills and realistically estimate the length of time it will take to deliver what you have promised. You must know your capacity around skill and time and energy management.
It’s a confusing world because at University – they don’t care if you are late or even if you turn up? They have your money – the rest is up to you – they expect you to figure yourself out.
But, if you work at a job – they want you to be on time, even five minutes late is unacceptable. So it all comes down to self-management. How can you organize yourself to arrive on time and be ready to work.
- Capacity and Work Ethic
You need to know your capacity regarding what you can take on or promise and then deliver. Some university students don’t realise how much harder the work is than school. They try to do their degrees too quickly and burn out. Or they use substances to cope with depression or anxiety and end up quitting.
What a shame and a waste if this ‘failure’ robs the person of their future. Too many bright and talented people end up doing dead end jobs because they lost their self worth and confidence. It’s better to regroup and have another go by taking a more realistic approach.
On the other hand – work ethic is a vital ingredient to build capacity. Some people who are bright and get good results easily at school struggle at University because they don’t know how to stretch themselves.
While young people are brimming over with great ideas to bring value to the world, they still have to be humble. Laslo Bock the head of ‘People Operations’ at Google said he is more interested in a person’s willingness to learn and to submit to another person’s leadership than in fleeting moments of intellectual brilliance.
So, ‘good values and old fashioned virtues’ are still important if you want to be noticed and taken seriously by those who have the power to employ you and promote you.
- Team Player
The humble and smart person understands what it means to be a ‘team player’. They recognise the value of bringing their talents and skills to the team, in order to grow other people and the organization, and not just their own career.
It’s tempting to be the ‘rock star’ by putting yourself out there and showing off your talents. And you should do your very best, with an attitude of excellence. The defining thing is your motivation. If it’s purely ambition at all costs, it will be short lived. Being a lone ranger will wear you out while stepping over other people to get what you want will cost you dearly in relationships. Either way you will end up isolated and unhappy. This is not success!
- Problem solver
Self-reflection is a great character trait to develop. Take the time to work out what’s working and what’s not so that you can come up with ideas or solutions to the problem. What may you have done to contribute and what you could do to make it right? Most people would rather find someone to blame for the problem than take responsibility or fix it.
- Get along with others
Once again – the lone ranger isn’t a happy camper. Around a third of your life will be spent at work, so understanding others and having great people skills will not only make life fun at work but will set you up for opportunities.
When employers interview, they look to see if you will fit into the culture (personality) of the organization as much if not more than they are looking for your skills. They want to know if you will fit in with the people who already work there. Let’s face it – you may not have much experience when you first leave school or university so at least be easy to get along with! The only exception to this might be if you are in IT where they keep you in a back room and throw a piece of raw meat under the door every 3 days to keep you going!
- Share working space
Just as Mum goes nuts when you are a slob at home, the work environment is no different. You use it – you put it back! These days many office work environments are completely open plan. No one has a set desk and it’s first in each day has the best choice of where you sit with your laptop each day. With less and less paper it is getting easier to be tidier but still requires some focus.
To summarise – you will be a small fish in a much bigger pond than you are used to, so dedicate yourself to mastering transferrable skills and you will find be at the top of the opportunity queue.