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Posted on January 29, 2018 at 7:40 pm

If your teenager is doing well at school, chances are they can write a great essay, organise an individual revision plan, and understand exactly what examiners are looking for.

A great start, but are they actually learning the kind of skills that will translate to success in the fast-changing world of employment? For example, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020 creativity will be the third most prized skill (up from tenth in 2015). Problem solving and critical thinking are also in the top 3.

Teachers themselves feel some doubt as to whether students are getting what they need. A recent Princes Trust survey showed that 91 per cent of teachers in fact feel schools should be doing more to help pupils develop teamwork and communication skills.

Increasingly, there is a disconnect between what business wants and what schools and universities are able to provide within the limits of the national curriculum and the available resources.

What are the skills and behaviours, then, that are key to getting a foothold in employment, and then thriving and progressing quickly? These are our top five:

1.     SELF-AWARENESS: we’d put money on the child of average abilities with a really solid knowledge of her strengths and areas of development outperforming the star student who has never given it a thought. Young people need guidance to pinpoint and articulate their strengths. This, more than anything, will give them the foundation for making good decisions.

2.     COMMUNICATION: this one is so hard for many teenagers (and adults!). It isn’t just about public speaking. The ability to be articulate, concise and appropriate in different contexts is crucial. It takes training and lots of practice to get it right.

3.     EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: unfairly, young people are often presented with this as an innate characteristic you either have or don’t have. Not so: this is something they can and should be working on. The ability to deal with different personalities, to adapt your own behaviour, to accept and offer constructive criticism, and the art of ‘managing up’: all this takes thought and experience.

4.     NETWORKING: young people need to reflect on the strength of their existing networks as a career-building resource. We find that this is a challenge they embrace and thrive on when it is explained correctly. An early understanding of networking always fast-tracks a career path.

5.     RESILIENCE: is your teenager a perfectionist? These personalities are common, and they tend to find the world of work a bruising place. Learning strategies to build on failure and to adapt a ‘growth mindset’ won’t just make for a more successful career; it will also build a happier individual. Techniques to manage the all too common problem of anxiety will help your child throughout his or her life.

Our founder James Prior explained to parents at a recent event how at primary school children hide behind their parents’ legs; then at secondary school teachers step in to give them guidance. The world of university and the workplace can then come as a horrible shock: young people find themselves having to step up, but without the skills needed to progress, let alone thrive.

So how can we help our children take this step without feeling that the rug has been pulled from under them, and put them in a stronger position?

We’d say, be a highly enthusiastic advocate for work experience, part-time jobs and volunteering. Convince them of the need for reflecting on and recording their achievements. Get them out there in the world having new experiences and meeting new people.

Don’t be shy of looking for professional help: our job is to give young people a strong grounding in the skills we’ve told you about here. Our students are armed with calm confidence, positivity, self-awareness and the resilience needed to see that setbacks are temporary. They know how to ‘get things done’ and be of value to a company, a team or an internship, from day one.

To find out more call Alex or James on 0207 099 6558, or email the team at hello@flyingstartxp.com. Visit our website at www.flyingstartxp.com


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