Mad skills

Here’s a scary stat – young people are THREE TIMES more likely to be out of work than adults.

They’re also continuously exposed to to lower quality jobs, greater labour market inequalities and longer school-to-work transitions. The reason? Young people simply don’t have the skills that the job market is asking for – both in terms of practical skills to do a job and soft skills that employers really need in their workforce.

Which is why the UN have come up with World Youth Skills Day (15 July), an annual event to encourage young people like you to add to your skill set and boost your employability. With more and more young people leaving education with the same top qualifications, it’s getting increasingly harder to employers to decide who’s worthy of the job – so it’s all the added extras you can bring to the table that matter.

So what can you do to boost your skills and bag yourself a top career further down the line? Here’s a few ideas…

Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships offer a great way to really learn how to do a job. You get lots of practical on-the-job training where you’ll pick up lots of practical skills as well as ‘soft skills’ like teamwork and communication skills. You’ll also get a qualification – like an SVQ or an HNC to prove your abilities.


You can also head to your local FE college to pick up a practical course that could lead to a blossoming career. From beauty therapy to car mechanics, sound production to lab skills, there are lots of fantastic hands-on courses where you’ll really learn how to do a job – and, in some cases, it could take you either on to university or straight in to work.

Something fun

Learning doesn’t have to be about academics or linking to your future career path. You could go learn something new just for the fun of it. Think photography, makeup, a language – and taking time out in the evenings or at weekends to do this shows that you’re a dedicated person. And who knows? Your ability with a camera or interest in coding could prove invaluable further down the line.

Learn online

If you can’t find classes in your area that tickle your fancy, what about checking out free online courses? FutureLearn is a fantastic free online resource which hosts courses from the likes of the University of Strathclyde and the Open University which give you a taster of different subject areas, from digital marketing to Shakespeare. It’s a little something extra to pop on your CV.


A great way of picking up useful skills is to volunteer your abilities to a charity or local organisation. This could mean anything from marshalling a fun run to working in a charity shop, helping look after cats and dogs in a local shelter to organising fundraising events – whatever takes your fancy. Try look for something that that ties into your skills and future interests.

Work experience

If you’re after something specific to your interests, get on it with work experience. Think about what you want to do, find companies that do it, and ask them if you can come join them in their offices for a few days, a couple of weeks – whatever you can squeeze in around school, college or uni. Most companies are more than happy to show you the ropes, and quite often, you’ll actually get to have a go at whatever it is they do, whether that’s writing a press release for a PR firm, joining engineers on a site visit or shadowing a doctor for a day.


We don’t just mean that upcoming trip to Magaluf with your mates. Get yourself abroad for a gap year or to volunteer with a charity. ICS is a great programme which helps young people volunteer in developing countries – and virtually all of your costs are covered.

All of these activities can really boost your skill set and give you something extra to help you on your journey towards adult life and – gulp – employment. Your school qualifications, sadly, aren’t enough to make it these days. So what are you waiting for? Put yourself out there and get learning!

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