From education to employment

LifeSkills launches new lesson on adaptability to help prepare pupils for working life

Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills created with Barclays

LifeSkills, created with Barclays, has published new lesson content to help teachers support pupils with adaptability skills. Using scenarios from the workplace, it aims to help young people to develop an adaptable mindset and understand the importance of versatility in their future careers.

LifeSkills’ How Employable is the UK report* found that over 60% of employers across a range of industries believe it has become more important over the past decade, out of all the seven key employability skills:

  • Proactivity
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Resilience
  • Communication, and
  • Problem solving

However, the report also found that 64% of educators feel that school and college-leavers do not have the adaptability skills needed for the workplace, showing that more resources for teachers could help them to support young people to become more comfortable with managing change and uncertainty.

The free lesson plan from LifeSkills is a quick-fire activity for 14-16 year olds. Downloaded from the LifeSkills website, it can be adapted to suit most learning environments. It takes example problems from different industries and challenges pupils to work in groups to plan how they could adapt to solve them. This type of group activity helps young people think about approaching problems with an adaptable mindset and complements building employability skills in practice through work experience.


Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills created with Barclays, said: “Adaptability is all about getting used to change quickly and the ability to cope and thrive in changing conditions – whether this is planned change or when the ‘goal posts’ are moved unexpectedly. Young people growing up today will face many fast-changing scenarios in their lives, especially as work becomes more flexible and varied. The free online resources offered by LifeSkills support teachers in helping their pupils to develop an adaptable mindset that will help them to succeed at work and in all areas of life.”

Adaptability is one of the transferable, future skills that experts such as Matthew Taylor, author of the Government’s Good Work report, have said are vital for school students.  Adaptability, in particulalr, is a key skill that will enable people to thrive in the 21st century workplace.

Sample scenario from LifeSkills adaptability lesson content:

In pairs or small groups, ask students to imagine themselves in the following scenario and discuss how they could adapt to deliver a suitable outcome. Encourage them to think about the other skills needed to enable them to adapt (e.g. communication).

Construction industry: Another contractor on your site has not finished their work on time, so you aren’t able to start as scheduled. You have agreed to start on a new site immediately after, and so won’t be able to delay this job. Discuss how you could adapt to deliver a suitable outcome.

Following the scenario exercise, ask students to come up with scenarios that require adaptability and can happen in their lives at school (or work/ sporting team/at home).

Finally, to summarise the session, ask students to come up with one way in which they could:

• Use the skill of adaptability to succeed in an interview for work experience or a job

• Include an example of a time when they used adaptability skills on a CV

* Research was conducted in July 2018 with 680 employers and 492 UK educators based in secondary, Further Education and Higher Education institutions.

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