Writing your first CV
Blog

Key skills for young people

9th May 2021

Key Skills are the generic transferable skills needed to succeed in work, education and employment.

You will have begun building these skills well before you seek your first formal job. Understanding the skills and levels required by typical employers can help you write a better entry-level CV.

‘Students should be building key skills components which are relevant to their future study and employment needs and which enable them to develop higher skills than they already possess’ 

Estelle Morris (taken from the TES 13 July)

‘We believe that key skills give young people the opportunity to take on programmes that are both more flexible – and thus better suited to their individual needs – and more demanding overall. We do not apologise for having high aspirations for our young people’

Estelle Morris (taken from the TES 13 July)

There are many skills that might be regarded as ‘key skills’ in the workplace. However, six are regarded as particularly important. These may be split into hard and soft skills.

What are the key skills?

The main three “hard” or “main” skills are:

  • Communication – is about speaking and listening, reading and writing
  • Application of number – is about interpreting information to do with numbers, doing calculations and presenting your findings
  • Information technology – is about using a computer to find, explore, develop and present information including text, numbers and images.

The three “wider” soft key skills are:

  • Working with others – is about how you work with others when planning and carrying out activities to get things done and achieve shared objectives
  • Improving own learning and performance -is about how you manage your learning, career and personal development
  • Problem solving – is about recognising problems and doing something about them.

Why are these skills important?

Key skills are skills that are commonly needed for success in a range of activities in education and training, work and life in general.

Employers have taken a lead in promoting the importance of key skills for employability. Key skills are already an important feature of modern apprenticeships and other government-funded training programmes. Institutions of higher education are also making explicit use of key skills within their undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

The development of key skills has been encouraged in schools and colleges for some time, particularly through GNVQs, work-experience programmes and curriculum enrichment activities. Key skills are now highlighted in the national curriculum to show how they relate to subjects across the curriculum.

See also  How to avoid the 7 most common CV mistakes

How are they assessed?

You may be able to take a key skills qualification alongside your GCSEs at school. Otherwise, you can use the list of key skills when writing your CV. Think about examples of when you have effectively used these skills, such as:

  • School projects
  • Extra curricular activities (such as a debating club)
  • Volunteering
  • Completion of the Duke of Edinburgh award
  • Helping your family
  • Helping friends and neighbours
  • Freelancing
  • Weekend or holiday jobs
  • Cadets, St John’s Ambulance
  • Scouts, Brownies

What level is expected?

If taken as a qualification, each key skill has different levels. Even if you don’t take the qualifications, reviewing these levels is extremely helpful when writing your CV. These skill requirements have been developed with the help of employers. They can therefore prompt you to think about which skills are valuable to employers, times where you’ve used a particular skill that you could provide as an example (such as preparing a report that achieved a good grade, or delivering a presentation to the class).

Communication

LEVEL 1

Candidates must be able to:

  • take part in discussions about straightforward subjects;
  • read and identify the main points and ideas from documents about straightforward subjects;
  • write about straightforward subjects.

LEVEL 2

Candidates must be able to:

  • help move discussions forward;
  • give a short talk using an image to illustrate their main points;
  • read and summarise information from extended documents;
  • use a suitable structure and style when writing extended documents.

LEVEL 3

Candidates must be able to:

  • create opportunities for others to contribute to group discussions about complex subjects;
  • make a presentation using a range of techniques to engage the audience;
  • read and synthesise information from extended documents about a complex subject;
  • organise information coherently, selecting a form and style of writing appropriate to complex subject matter.

LEVEL 4

Candidates must be able to produce at least one extended example that requires them to:

  • develop a strategy for using communication skills over an extended period of time;
  • monitor progress and adapt their strategy, as necessary, to achieve the quality of outcomes required in work involving a group discussion and an extended written communication about complex subjects;
  • evaluate their overall strategy and present outcomes from their work using a formal oral presentation, including images.

Application of number

LEVEL 1

  • Candidates must be able to:
    interpret straightforward information;
  • carry out calculations, using whole numbers, simple decimals, fractions and percentages to given levels of accuracy;
  • interpret the results of their calculations and present findings, using a chart and diagram.

LEVEL 2

Candidates must be able to carry through a substantial activity that requires them to:

  • select information and methods to get the results they need;
  • carry out calculations involving two or more steps and numbers of any size, including use of formulae, and check their methods and levels of accuracy;
  • select ways to present their findings, including use of a graph, describe methods and explain results.
See also  3 reasons why your CV may be stopping you getting an interview 

LEVEL 3

Candidates must be able to plan and carry through a substantial and complex activity that requires them to:

  • plan their approach to obtaining and using information, choose appropriate methods for obtaining the results needed and justify
    their choice;
  • carry out multi-stage calculations, including use of a large data set (over 50 items) and re-arrangement of formulae;
  • justify their choice of presentation methods and explain the results of their calculations.

LEVEL 4

Candidates must be able to produce at least one extended example, including formulating and testing hypotheses and drawing conclusions, that requires them to:

  • develop a strategy for using application of number skills over an extended period of time;
  • monitor progress and adapt their strategy, as necessary, to achieve the quality of outcomes required in work involving deductive and
    inferential reasoning and algebraic manipulation;
  • evaluate their overall strategy and present outcomes from their work, including use of charts, diagrams and graphs to illustrate
    complex data.

Information technology

LEVEL 1

Candidates must be able to:

  • find, enter, explore and develop relevant information;
  • present information, including text, images and numbers, using appropriate layouts and save information.

LEVEL 2

Candidates must be able to:

  • identify suitable sources, carry out effective searches and select relevant information;
  • bring together, explore and develop information, and derive new information;
  • present combined information, including text, images and numbers, in a consistent way.

LEVEL 3

Candidates must be able to plan and carry through a substantial activity that requires them to:

  • plan and use different sources and appropriate techniques to search for and select information, based on judgements of relevance and quality;
  • use automated routines to enter and bring together information, and create and use appropriate methods to explore, develop
    and exchange information;
  • develop the structure and content of their presentation, using others’ views to guide refinements, and information from different sources.

LEVEL 4

Candidates must be able to produce at least one extended example that requires them to:

  • develop a strategy for using IT skills over an extended period of time;
  • monitor progress and adapt their strategy, as necessary, to achieve the quality of outcomes required in work involving the use
    of IT for two different complex purposes;
  • evaluate their overall strategy and present outcomes from their work using a presentation showing integration of text, images and numbers
See also  Supporting Pupils Towards Writing Their First CV

Higher levels

Level 3

Level 3 marks a shift from straightforward tasks to being capable of responding to the demands of more complex activities. Candidates need to demonstrate more explicit reasoning ability and personal responsibility in making decisions about how tasks are organised.

Level 4

Level 4 requires candidates to have substantial autonomy and responsibility for managing activities and for identifying how the key skills relate to their situation. It recognises ability to develop a strategy for using key skills over an extended period of time, monitor and critically reflect on progress and adapt strategy, as necessary, to achieve the quality of outcomes required.

At level 5, there is a single unit (personal skills development). This unit requires candidates to apply their key skills in communication, working with others and problem solving, in an integrated way, in order to improve their own learning and performance in managing
professionally challenging work.

Presenting key skills on your CV

As you create your first CV, think about how you can show a prospective employer the two elements of any key skill.

First, you must have had the opportunity to acquire the ‘know how’ (eg how to write grammatically correct text, carry out particular types of calculations and use editing facilities in a word processing package).

For example:

“I initially learned to use Microsoft Office when helping my parents in the family business.”

“We were taught to use Microsoft Word and Excel as part of GCSE IT to intermediate standard.”

“I took a 20 hour course in Microsoft Word and Excel to improve my skills, achieving an overall grade of 76.”

You then need the opportunity to practice and develop your skills.

For example:

“Helping my parents in their shop, I produced all correspondence on MS Word, recorded all bookkeeping transactions on Excel and created marketing materials using Microsoft Publisher.”

“I used Microsoft Excel extensively when producing projects for my GCSE Maths and Physics coursework which achieved a B and C respectively.”

“For my GCSE Construction coursework, I had to create a Powerpoint presentation which I delivered to a group of 90 pupils including three local Housing officers.”

You will see that the above examples are far more powerful than simply claiming you have a particular skill.

You may find these helpful:

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.