Employment

Grades aren’t everything. You could bring these skills to the workplace

Don’t let ‘bad’ grades put you off achieving your career dreams.

There are many skills you can bring to a job, even if you didn’t get ‘good’ grades.

We spoke to experts about what school leavers could bring to a role, even if they didn’t get the grades they hoped for.

“Young people will bring energy, enthusiasm, a different way of thinking and doing things,” says Sam Olsen, chief executive of Movement To Work.

“I would encourage all young people to think about where their digital skills are at. We think of young people as being digital savvy and good at social media, but these are not necessarily the type of digital tools required in the labour market.

“Think about how you use Teams, FaceTime, email, Excel, word processing, Powerpoint, and managing an electronic diary. These are much more important than TikTok. But if you can create on TikTok that is also a brilliant transferable skill.”

Sam’s top tips are to get up to scratch with the essential digital skills framework on Gov.uk and to try different jobs to see which is right for you.

“The joy of work experience is it’s a great way of playing around with jobs you might want to do,” she adds.

“The joy of our courses is you have people from the industry teaching you exactly the employability skills you need to succeed in that first job,” says Ally Owen, founder of Brixton Finishing School, which runs free courses to help young people experience a career in advertising.

“That’s nothing to do with learning at school. I’m all for education but a lot of stuff you’re taught to do on your own, not doing stuff in teams, and waiting to receive information rather than being proactive and finding it yourself.”

Ally adds: “How you perform on a single day when you sit your exams doesn’t show me how you’re going to perform in the workplace. We should be looking at consistent behaviour, such as people showing up and being committed.”

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“Every employer wants a person with the right attitude above qualifications, ” says Laura-Jane Rawlings, chief executive of Youth Employment UK. “It’s about showing that you are wanting to work, you’ve got an interest in the company, that you want to do a good job. That’s what employers are really looking for when all is said and done.”

She adds softer skills such as communication, team work, problem solving and self-management are “absolutely critical”.

“When they’re interviewing someone, employers want to see someone who is motivated, keen and interested,” she adds. “You don’t have to have any academic skills.”

Sam Stanyer, operations manager at Catch22, adds: “The best skill you can bring to a job is a willingness to learn”.

“If you choose something vocational, you learn how to do a job you actually want to be doing.  You end up coming through educated and already skilled in your career. That’s a really valuable thing for someone particularly finishing A-levels to have.

“The biggest thing you get from doing something vocational is you can get to learn how to be in work at a much younger age and learning that skillset around how to develop in your career. That includes how to interact with the world of work, how to interact with your boss, and how to learn about your perception about yourself in work is quite a big thing.

“When you’ve got your apprenticeship and you’ve qualified to a good level, you’ve also developed work and life skills along that journey that are really going to help you succeed in your career.”

Get career tips and advice from our Jobs and Training series:

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