From education to employment

What skills do young people really need?

Jack Parson with Sadiq Khan

Today, young people worldwide are finding it increasingly difficult to enter the workforce, let alone thrive within it. Currently, global youth unemployment stands at a shocking 75 million, and that number is still increasing. Over the last 20 years, with the modernisation of the world and workforce alike, soft skills — the competencies, behaviours, and personal qualities that enable people to work with others, achieve their goals, and navigate their environment with confidence — have become more important than ever.

Despite being educated, many individuals still lack the skills they need to get the jobs and opportunities they want; many even struggle to identify what those essential skills are. While the list of skills is near endless, and so it would be impossible for any singular person to possess all of them, we have chosen to highlight the most important skills that we believe young people should be focusing on.

Critical thinking and Problem-solving

Perhaps one of the most crucial skills that young people need before entering the workforce is problem-solving and critical thinking. While many education systems focus on rote learning rather than on honing an individual’s soft skills, young people still need to practice being given open-ended and authentic experiences in solving a wide array of problems; this will equip them to effectively tackle all sorts of problems that may come up in their future workplace without them feeling too overwhelmed.

Communication and Collaboration Skills

Communication skills include the effective expression, transmission, and interpretation of ideas and information. If an individual is unable to communicate, regardless of how great their intentions or ideas may be, then these other skills will be futile. As a result, many employers place great importance on these abilities and often list writing and speaking skills among the top traits that they are looking for in new hires.


 Although not all young people will go into business, it is important for all youth to have a sense of entrepreneurship if they are to succeed in today’s workforce. Young people who are equipped with entrepreneurial skills are better prepared and able to navigate the challenges which the rapidly changing job market throws at them and can initiate changes and ideas on their own. As a result, employers are increasingly looking for new hires who will make a difference in their organisations and who are forward-thinking and motivated to go above and beyond rather than simply completing a list of duties.

Accessing and Analyzing Information

Due to the widespread availability of technology, young people’s access to a whole wealth of knowledge lies right at their fingertips. Today, it is no longer about what an individual knows, but rather what they can find out and how they can utilise that information. Therefore, it is crucial that young people know how to access, assess, and analyse information; they need to be able to sift through and judge sources to find what is relevant and then analyse the information to determine what it actually means and how it can be utilised.

Digital Literacy

The advanced digital world of today demands that nearly every career must use technology of some kind. Therefore, the more a young person knows about technology the more appealing they will be to their prospective employers. Digital literacy means that individuals are familiar with an array of different technologies and can easily learn to use any program, device, or software. When young people are preparing to enter the

 workforce, they should make sure that they constantly increase their knowledge of emerging and trending technologies — this will help future employers to see them as easily trainable and adaptable.

Curiosity and a Love of Learning

Curiosity and a love of learning is one of the most important skills that young people need for future jobs. Since our future is indefinite, there is no limit to what workers may need to learn in order to succeed in the workplace.

Young people need to hold onto the curiosity and love of learning which they had had as children as these traits are massively important for the modern work environment and individuals who possess them are an asset to any organisation. Young people should consistently aim to pursue new knowledge and learn new things, the more they know, the more well-rounded and better equipped they will be.

Creative-Thinking and Collaboration

Creativity and collaboration are also key elements of the modern workplace. This is because one of the biggest factors that contribute to the success of any organisation is whether or not its workers are able to work as a team. Due to increased competition, it is essential to encourage creativity in the office and, as a result, improve productivity and promote healthy employee relationships. Creativity inspires employees to work with each other and to be quicker and more effective in their work compared to individuals who work on projects on their own. Moreover, collaboration makes employees more responsible, especially when teams work virtually, and helps to boost motivation and engagement levels.

In addition, these two components are key to the previously mentioned problem-solving skill — without creative thinking and collaboration, problem-solving becomes infinitely harder. Individuals need creativity and collaboration in order to come up with unique and innovative solutions to any obstacles which they may encounter and to help ensure that the organisation runs more smoothly and effectively.

Emotional Intelligence and Self Awareness

Finally, the last skill that we believe that young people should possess is acute emotional intelligence and self-awareness. In order for young people to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses, they first need to know themselves — once they do then they can make adjustments where needed so that they can perform at their best. Equally, individuals who know themselves know the most effective ways in which they can approach and solve problems and are also able to work better with others.

Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, allows young people to understand their peers better and to form deeper connections with co-workers, superiors and anyone else who is associated with the organisation. These strong connections are essential in all industries — employers want new workers who can form secure bonds so that they can promote the organisation, work well with others and help to promote a healthy and positive company culture.

Jack Parsons is an award-winning young entrepreneur, public speaker and subject expert on youth and is known as the UK’s Chief Youth Officer.

Jack’s been honoured awards over the last 3 years including Young Digital Leader Of The Year, The 100 Faces of a Vibrant Economy, Most Connected Young Entrepreneur, 50 Top kindest leaders and Top 10 UK Young Entrepreneurs to Watch.

Jack is currently the CEO of The Youth Group which is building the world’s largest most connected marketplace and community for young people with one aim: to help improve the odds for young people across the commonwealth to achieve their full potential in work.

On top of running The Youth Group Jack advises a number of organizations and figure heads on young people.

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