Life Lessons: Skills and Knowledge.

Skills and knowledge or skills v knowledge?

Our last blog was about the World Economic Forum’s research into the skills needs for the 21st Century and so by definition, what we need our young people to be learning about alongside their academic studies

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  2. Collaboration and Leading by Influence
  3. Agility and Adaptability
  4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  5. Good Oral and Written Communication
  6. Accessing and Analysing Information
  7. Curiosity and Imagination.

Now clearly, we have been supporting young people in their schools with these skills for the past 12 years and our workshops and sessions are designed around these skills and the curriculum outcomes required by schools and colleges…we concluded that whilst these are key skills now and in the future, there has always been a need for young people to exhibit these skills at work – now they are facing more uncertainty into the future and so the focus on self-reliance is greater than ever.

Life Lessons.

Recently the Sutton Trust, a charity that has supported social mobility on the UK since 1997, has completed a research project – LIFE LESSONS – into how essential life skills can be improved for young people. Published in October 2017, the report highlights the elements of life skills such as Confidence, Motivation, Resilience and Communication that are associated with better academic outcomes and better workplace prospects.

Life skills are recognized as important by all parties involved in the development of young people and their careers – 88% of young people, 94% of employers and 97% of teacher see these life skills as equal to or more important than academic qualifications.

Researchers Carl Cullinane and Rebecca Montacute found some surprising results when questioning teachers as 53% said that life skills are more important than academic qualifications to a young person’s success and 72% said their school should increase focus on teaching life skills.

75% of young people surveyed thought that better life skills would help them to get a job in the future but only 20% of them thought that their school curriculum helped them to gain life skills.

Debating societies, volunteering programmes, enterprise and business clubs are all helpful to developing life skills and many schools offer them. 45% of schools provided debating societies but only 2% of young people reported themselves as attending them and as for volunteering – where 78% of schools offered volunteering opportunities only 8% of students responded as being involved.

Is this surprising?

Yes and no.

Schools offer excellence in academic learning. We can hope that the life skills activities that are offered at school are taken up by students but not every student will want to be involved in everything…still, the disparities in amounts of experiences offered and the numbers take up seem large.

Schools often rely on the actions of teachers with vision and time and sometimes outside bodies to support their school’s enrichment / life skills / extended learning day programme.

Often the offering of different life skill-focused activity in schools is reliant on peoples’ passions and their use of time to give young people opportunities. Schools also rely on support from local businesses and outside providers to bring activities and opportunities to life.

How can we help?

IE have supported schools with enterprise, PSHEE and Life Skills resources and activity since 2006 and continue to do so. Our Schools page is here:

If you want to do it yourself, we have a load of resources that can help you to deliver life skills sessions linked to enterprise and PSHEE in your own time. They’re here and are often on offer:

Finally, for careers-themed activity there are loads of free year-round resources and information and tools for developing your school’s National Careers Week events at