There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need to address the employability skills gap; for example the UK government has brought in changes to education inspections from September 2015, giving a higher profile for employability skills promotion, and an independent report by McDonalds clarifies the challenges and draws recommendations. At Totem we’ve got our own recommendations too! But first; here’s the background:
97% of UK employers believe soft skills are vital for business success, with certain soft skills (communication and team work) being considered more important than academic achievements– yet more than half of UK workers admit to not listing soft skills anywhere on their CV.
McDonalds report declares that in the next five years over half a million workers will struggle to progress due to soft skill short comings. This is estimated to amount to a loss of almost £923 million, a year, by 2020 and almost £1.08 billion by 2025.
This isn’t the only cost a skills gap is going to generate. Due to the shortage of workers with appropriate skills, there will be unfilled positions in companies. This shortage of workers will generate a loss of production, costing a further £7.44 billion, per annum, by 2020 rising to £14 billion by 2025. A huge hit to UK businesses! This outcome may not be able to be averted completely however the cost can be reduced if greater esteem is given to soft skills now.
So what are soft skills and how can we develop them?
According to the report, soft skills can be broken up into six key clusters:
- Communication skills, for example: effective listening, appropriate and good use of questions, clear and concise direction
- Decision Making/Problem Solving, eg. The ability to identify and analyse an issue, take effective and appropriate action, recognise effect of decision
- Self-Management skills, eg. Self-motivated and proactive personality traits, loyalty, adaptability and the ability to work well under pressure
- Teamwork skills, eg. Positive and encouraging attitude, accountability, willingness to share ideas and listen to others’ views, punctual
- Professionalism skills, eg. Appropriate language use, trustworthy, accepting of criticism, realistic understanding of job role
- Leadership skills, eg. Strategic thinking, conflict management, respect for others knowledge, recognise others strengths and weaknesses, ability to build relationships
These are the skills that need to be developed for businesses and workers to progress over the next decade. If focus is given to these skills now and our attitudes towards them change, the gap can be bridged to some extent. The huge losses in production and progress will be reduced.
One suggestion, by the report, is to make soft skills training available to employees, equipping workers with appropriate skills for the future. McDonalds showed their devotion to training, and innovative thinking, in 2006; serious games were introduced into employee training and it proved very effective. Since 2006 the serious game industry has grown and improved. They are being used in all sectors for training, growing awareness, even in the school classroom.
Shouldn’t there be a game that can offer soft skills training? Here at Totem Learning we are happy to declare that we have a modern solution to this growing problem. Introducing, Unlock: Employability!
Unlock: Employability is a serious game for the education sector (aka game-based learning). It enables soft skill development for students through immersive, challenging game play and team work. Set on a mysterious tropical island, learners must work together to solve puzzles and be selected for their dream job.
The game must be played in teams of four – each player at their own PC. Communication is exclusively in game via an instant messaging window. This serves three purposes. The first is to train student’s communication skills, a vital soft skill for the workplace. Players will quickly learn that to succeed, they must give clear and concise direction to their team mates. The second is because it levels the playing field, those that ‘shout the loudest’ will not have the advantage. The third purpose is so all communication can be captured and assessed. Teachers can use this information to guide students on any area they struggle with and also commend them for areas they excel at.
Screens at the end of each level also provide the player with feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. The feedback screens highlight how these traits are applicable in the workplace and further ways to develop them.
Unlock: Employability is just one example of how serious games can combat real issues in the classroom, workplace, even healthcare. For further information on serious games that you can license for use in your classroom, or commission bespoke, contact the totem team today!