National Skills Week 2023!
Hear from our Director of Programmes and Impact, Jo Clark, about the importance of essential skills in the classroom and for later life and work.
Everyone is talking essential skills. And we think this is great news. A growing body of research points to the critical role of essential skills in closing the education and employment gap between less advantaged young people and their peers. They’ve been found to bolster learning in the classroom, boost academic outcomes, and improve perseverance and self-belief. In other words, they’re a good thing all by themselves. And they help make other good things happen, too. Skills Builder Partnership’s Essential Skills Tracker 2023 found that essential skills support better life outcomes regardless of education level, and predict job satisfaction as much as income. That’s why they’re at the core of our mission.
Since 2020, we’ve worked closely with Skills Builder to develop a codified, rigorous curriculum that allows young people to identify and develop the essential skills that are required to succeed in all walks of life. Through the design of our Essential Skills Framework, we established our four essential skills – communication, creativity, determination, and teamwork – aligning their definitions directly with the eight essential skills in the Skills Builder Universal Framework:
Our Essential Skills Framework sits at the heart of our programme.
Using social action projects as a vehicle, young people on the Envision programme learn to work collaboratively and use their skills to design and deliver a project that makes a tangible, lasting change for the better in their school or college community. We pair each team of young people with a group of mentors from a local business, who share how they have used their essential skills throughout their own school and working careers, and support young people to recognise their own progress.
Each session’s set of aims and activities is planned meticulously to link directly to our skills statements. Our facilitators outline exactly which skills our young people will practice or develop in the session, and we build in enough time each week for our young people to reflect with us, their peers, and their mentors on how they feel they’re progressing.
We believe in giving our young people ample time to develop their skills, and a safe space to try, fail and try again. Our programme structure, with key milestones set up over the course of the journey, ensures young people build up their confidence step by step – providing them a variety of opportunities to practice each skill, stretch their capability, and reflect on how to develop further.
Core to our approach is that young people not only learn to identify when, where, and how they’re using each of these skills throughout our programme, but are able to articulate this effectively to others. This gives us the confidence that they’ll continue to use, grow, and develop their essential skills, even after they leave Envision.
Our graduates passionately endorse the importance of the essential skills gained through the Envision programme. Young people recognise these skills’ value in career progression and overcoming life challenges, but also acknowledge disparities in access to such opportunities.
And we are keen to know if the skills they’ve built stick, which is why we’ve piloted a survey to stay in touch with our graduates after they’ve left us. This will not only help us understand how we can continue to support them, but will also give us insights to make the Envision programme even better over time. We tell our young people that essentials skills go with them and grow with them – so we need to make sure we do what we can to ensure this happens!
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