Cultivating Transferable Skills

When Barclays asked employers which skills they most valued, Problem-solving and Adaptability scored highly. Our L & D Consultant, Martin Ibbotson, says Brathay’s customised Level 3 Leadership and Management Apprenticeships deliver on this, and more.

Today’s apprentices are far more likely to face a ‘portfolio career’ than remain in the same job role for life. To succeed, they need transferable skills that complement the fast-moving pace of technology. As digital and artificial intelligence dominate, employers are looking to counter-balance this with people who can think creatively, adapt, use their initiative and solve unforeseen problems as they occur.

Kirstie Mackey’s research findings published in FE News came as no surprise. As Head of LifeSkills for Barclays she asked UK employers to prioritise the skills they are looking for when recruiting new staff. Many said Problem-solving and Adaptability were most important, placing them above Proactivity, Leadership, Creativity, Resilience, and Communication.

At Brathay we have been working with PPG; a forward-thinking client who asked us to deliver a bespoke version of the Level 3 Leadership and Management Apprenticeship that met their current business needs. Interestingly, six of the seven core skills identified in the LifeSkills research were directly named in various sections of the Standard.

One feature of the programme was the inclusion of a substantial work-based project bringing an added dimension to the development of Knowledge, Skills and Behaviour required by the Standard. We found that when the apprentices were engaged in the project, many elements of their learning moved from being conceptual, to being experienced, felt, and then integrated into their professional personas. The project required apprentices to work autonomously, which increased the depth of their learning further still. They were able to apply elements of learning in a way that was personal to them, and could see real-life (or more importantly, real-business) results of that learning application.

Consequently, skills such as Problem-solving and Adaptability have become an essential part of each apprentice’s toolbox. Since completing the course, they have combined their newly-developed skills to improve their quality and of work which in turn has enhanced their experience in the workplace.

To give just one example:

One PPG apprentice noted how she utilised feedback from others to adopt a more integrated approach to problem-solving. Instead of shouldering the responsibilities herself, she sought guidance from colleagues, including her line-manager. Having found she was able to ask for the type of support she needed – guidance, as opposed to telling her what to do – she was then able to find and develop her own workable solution.

Dr Rachel Yehuda (2014)* speculates that resilience will be improved by better support systems and better opportunities. I believe both of these were integral to the Leadership and Management programme we delivered.

*Southwick , S. et al. 2014. Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: interdisciplinary perspectives:

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