From education to employment

How can you measure progress in employability skills

In an ideal and simplistic world an effective work preparation programme should give your learners three things:

  1. Employer Awareness – are your learners aware of the employers in the local area and do they understand what skills and attributes they are looking for?
  2. Employer Experience – do they have first-hand experience of the workplace?
  3. Employer Readiness – do they have a good quality CV and can they evidence job search techniques, interview skills and workplace behaviours relevant to the job they’re applying for.

Clearly this throws up a number of challenges particularly when considering and measuring progression within employer readiness. Behind the obvious criteria of ‘do they have an appropriate CV’ and ‘will they perform well at an interview’ there are a whole host of personal and behavioural skills  which have no clear-cut measures – such as motivation, organisation, professionalism, resilience and sociability. These skills do, however, represent crucial steps towards being able to obtain and retain work, to progress within a career path of choice and to succeed in other areas of life.

Research has shown that 97% of employers base their recruitment decisions not on the applicant’s skill set (qualifications etc.) but on their mindset.  What’s more, a candidate who can demonstrate the key mindset qualities will increase their chances of obtaining employment by 300%.

If we agree that these ‘mindsets’ are absolutely critical to preparing learners for the world of work then don’t we also need to be able to measure progression and distance travelled within a learners time of study?

Currently providers tend to focus on criteria with easily quantiable data such as achievement of qualifications and progression to a positive destination.

These are perfectly legitimate outcome measures, of course. However, measuring mindset progression – using either quantitative or qualitative indicators – is vital to gauging the progress being made by learners. In fact developing these mindsets is a natural and necessary precursor to successful employment outcomes in the long-term.

This means that we first need to assess and measure the mindset of learners before we assess the outcome data.  Clearly, the two are closely intertwined and by measuring the  development of the  learner’s mindset you are significantly increasing your chances of getting the hard outcomes required.

Here at REED NCFE we passionately believe in the advantage you can give your learners by enabling them to demonstrate that they possess the skills, attitudes and mindsets employers base their recruitment decisions on whilst at the same time providing you with  tools such as BESTest, our new work readiness diagnostic, to measure and monitor the development of mindset.


Tom Millar is Managing Director at The REED NCFE Partnership who provide employability solutions designed to support your delivery. For more information contact 0191 605 3300.

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