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Why is it important for young people to develop transferable skills?

Our rapidly changing world means that subject knowledge alone is no longer enough for young people to engage effectively in the new employment landscape. That’s where transferable skills come in.

The key issue is the rapidly changing nature and sheer unpredictability of the world that young people will enter, either at 18, or after graduation. Subject knowledge will always be integral to intellectual growth and must continue to be valued highly, but it will also be vital to recognise that subject knowledge alone will no longer be sufficient to engage effectively in the new employment landscape. Young people will need to be far more fleet of mind, adaptable and open to new learning than ever before. To take full advantage of opportunities, they will need to fully accept that the analytical, communication, collaboration and leadership skills acquired during the assimilation of subject knowledge will almost inevitably be either equally or more highly valued by potential employers, who will require their teams to adjust sharply and competitively to new trends and markets. Resilience in the face of uncertainty will be a critical factor. Schools have always celebrated academic achievement and should continue to do so, but it is imperative that they also formally acknowledge the qualities and skills that will play such a critical role in young people's lives. These transferable skills are likely to make all the difference.

At St Christopher's, in addition to the promotion of transferable skills within the academic curriculum, the school has been keen to encourage students to engage in a wide range of extra- and super-curricular activities to enhance transferable skills even further. Leadership and decision-making skills are promoted in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Scheme; collaboration is key to a successful TradeQuest team; independence of mind, communication and inter-personal skills are de rigueur in the entirely student-led ChrisMUN conference; the Head Girl, Head Boy and their Deputies are given significant responsibility for the organisation and management of events; student initiatives and new thinking are welcomed and highly valued; participation in the World Scholar's Cup has enhanced international co-operation; and Year 12 assemblies have focused on the importance of pro-activity throughout the year.

The message being promoted widely within the community is that both subject knowledge and understanding, and the acquisition of the so-called soft skills, are essential to achieving success in all spheres of life. Visiting alumni have strongly reiterated this message from their own experiences when making addresses to students, parents and staff at formal celebration of achievement events.
 
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About the author
Steve Keeble is Deputy Head of Senior School at St Christopher’s School in Bahrain. With responsibility for post-16 education, Steve is approaching the completion of 17 years of teaching in Bahrain.

Transferable skills have been embedded from the start in the development of Pearson qualifications and resources: Pearson Edexcel International GCSEs (9-1), Pearson Edexcel International Advanced Levels, as well as the iPrimary and iLower Secondary for 5-14 year olds. 

Read Transferable skills: A guide for schools to find out more and see examples of how the skills are signposted across Pearson qualifications and resources. 
 

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