by Fleur Sexton, MD at PET-Xi
Whenever I look at a CV I am always delighted to see that the applicant has spent some time working – and I don’t mind if that work isn’t particularly relevant to their application. The number one thing it tells me is that the person is a grafter – keen, willing to work hard and most importantly of all equipped with a wide range of ‘soft’ skills including great communication, team work and time management.
I believe that such soft skills are very important to business success – and can be more important than ‘hard’ academic results in many areas, such as resolving conflict and ensuring that customers have a happy experience.
Being presentable and able to work efficiently, at the right pace are key factors affecting employability, and skills which I am always keen to discover and foster in my own team. So if I have to choose between two level-pegging prospective employees, I’ll take the person with the work experience, because that tells me that they know what it’s like to be in the workplace and have shown some initiative by arranging to spend some time there.
And I’m not alone. A survey of British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) members found that 79% of employers ranked work experience as the number one activity necessary to equip young people with workplace skills.
Being employable involves possessing many skills and attributes available to all. You don’t have to be a university graduate to be punctual, friendly and inquisitive…
I worked for McDonalds when I was a student teacher in France and it was a great way to pick up language skills. Nowadays I visit with my children and when we pop in for breakfast at 7.30am I am full of admiration for the keen youngsters behind the counter who are up, cheerful and hard at work, when many of their contemporaries are still in bed! All credit to them – they are earning their own money and picking up valuable employability skills which will stand them in great stead throughout their working lives.
Coincidentally, McDonalds has done some research into the value of soft skills which found that they contribute more than £88 billion to the UK economy each year. This contribution is predicted to increase to £109 billion during the next five years. But the research also revealed that by 2020 over half a million UK workers will be held back quite significantly by a lack of said soft skills, which will in turn affect all sectors of business in the UK.
Work experience is simply invaluable in helping school leavers to develop the skills and experience they will need in the workplace, including some of the soft skills necessary to make someone employable, such as communication, team-working and commercial awareness.
Being employable involves possessing many skills and attributes available to all. You don’t have to be a university graduate to be punctual, friendly and inquisitive – all essential for getting on in life and being ready to take on a job.