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The power of transferable skills

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how we work and in some cases what we call a career.

Since March 2020, the UK claimant count has increased by almost 1.5 million – with almost three million claimants nationally.

With UK unemployment rising to 5.1%, it’s clear that the economic impact of the pandemic has rippled into the job market and will continue to do so for some time – affecting thousands of people.

As of March 2021, we are starting to see a significant increase in jobs postings nationally. There are now just over one million postings – an increase of over 200,000 since before the pandemic.

With certain sectors such as Hospitality being heavily impacted by the effects of Covid-19, many people have had to re-think how they fit into this changing landscape, even if temporarily. Identifying transferable skills and their relevance to available work opportunities is now a critical part of the job search process for those whose employment has been interrupted by the pandemic.

Research commissioned by Nesta found that three quarters of employers prioritise transferable skills equal to or above technical skills when recruiting new employees. The skills in high demand included oral communication, presentation skills, teamwork, collaboration, initiative, and problem solving. Over 90% of employers say these are ‘high priority’.

Set up in response to the pandemic’s significant impact on the economy, the Job Entry: Targeted Support (WHP JETS) service is designed to support unemployed jobseekers back into work. A key focus for Employment Advisers on the service is transferable skills and identifying the sectors and roles that each jobseeker might be suitable for, then getting them back into work – quickly.

Almost 2,000 participants have joined the service since its launch in October last year. The majority lost their jobs unexpectedly and needed quick, effective support to identify their transferable skills and start working in a new industry.

Jack and Tanisha are just two people whose stories are a brilliant example of how WHP JETS is supporting people on their journey into a new career path through transferable skills.

Jack turned his passion for learning different languages into a career after Covid-19 caused complications with his apprenticeship and he was left at a loss. After speaking with his Employment Adviser, Alison, Jack looked at areas where his passion could be used. Alison helped Jack to re-build his CV and motivated him to start thinking differently. This led him to apply for the RAF where he was successful in finding a new job.

Tanisha joined the service at the end of January of this year. Having always worked in Credit Control, she wanted to use the opportunity of being out of work to change careers and branch out to a different sector. Her Employment Adviser helped her to attend a transferable skills workshop so that she would be able to update her CV and tailor it to the area of work she wanted to move into. In March, Tanisha was successful in her search and secured a new role.

The CIPD is encouraging employers to “focus on what employees can do” when redeploying people, emphasising that many people will have also learnt valuable skills during lockdown. For example, home schooling includes elements of planning and preparing sessions, communicating effectively and carefully managing time. Our Programme Director’s for the WHP JETS service are appealing to all hiring employers to consider jobseekers’ transferable skills rather than entirely focusing on sector or job role experience.