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Employability skills: supporting people of all ages and abilities

Employability skills: supporting people of all ages and abilities

While facilitating an ASDAN Employability introductory workshop recently, it struck me during the introductions how wide reaching the qualification is with regards to supporting people of all ages and abilities in the development of their employability skills.

I have been delivering these workshops for a number of years and once again it was inspiring to hear from practitioners working with such diverse groups of people including:

  • learners in a special school
  • learners in alternative provision
  • learners in a mainstream school
  • unemployed adults looking for employment
  • Syrian refugees looking to develop skills to gain employment in the UK

Employability skills are not just about supporting people to secure their first job but once they are in work being able to maintain employment and obtain new employment where required. Through Employability, people learn vital skills by covering units including:

  • team work
  • overcoming barriers to work
  • career exploration
  • enterprise skills
  • applying for a job
  • customer service
  • tackling problems
  • learning through work experience

During ASDAN workshops, we encourage and fully support practitioners to be creative in designing appropriate activities and challenges that can be used to assess the skills being developed. This makes the course enjoyable and rewarding for the learners.

Supporting young learners at ASDAN

Here at ASDAN, we practice what we preach when it comes to helping people develop vital employability skills. Through our apprenticeship programme, we offer our apprentices the opportunity to achieve an Employability qualification as part of their apprenticeship. The Employability qualifications, from Entry level 2 to Level 2, provide learners with the opportunity to recognise and reflect on the skills they are developing and how these skills can be transferred across different areas of the business. An example of this would be customer service, which is as important when working in the customer support team as it is in the publications or IT team.

One of our apprentices Ahsan, who started with us four years ago, is now our ICT support assistant. Ahsan is also one of our work experience mentors providing support to young people who come to ASDAN on work experience placements. Ahsan knows first-hand how the acquisition of employability skills has helped him in the early part of his career and he can now pass this experience on to younger learners.

Free employability handbook

For the past two years, ASDAN has been the lead partner for the Get There – Journey to Employment project, an EU Erasmus+ collaboration across five EU member states: UK, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus. The Get There project addressed the issue of youth unemployment and developing better employability skills.

Based on materials including ASDAN’s Employability Skills Development course, the project offers practitioners an effective programme to structure young people's journey into employment. The project led to the creation of the Employability Skills Handbook for Employability Educators. This free publication features activities and guidance for tutors in units covering a wide range of skills including:

  • teamwork
  • communication
  • self-management
  • problem solving
  • customer awareness

The handbook is a fantastic resource which anyone teaching employability skills could benefit from. The activities in the handbook have been designed to meet the needs of different learners, support personalised learning, and raise learners’ awareness of self and others through reflective practice. In addition, the activities are generic and can be adapted to any vocational interest.

The handbook, which includes links to supplementary resources, can be downloaded by visiting the Get There website. For queries on the handbook or Get There, please email Adrian Sladdin:

Author: Simon Lawrence, Head of Development


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