The missing dialogue – Developing real employability skills

Confirmed delivery partners for this project are the research teams at the Education and Employers charity, the teaching union ATL and the Edge Foundation. Together they bring a wide range of experience, together with key communications channels to schools and employers.

In addition, the CBI have agreed to come on board as a partner to support engagement with employers, making links and chairing roundtable discussions to gather and test their views.


This project has two objectives:

  • First, we have all seen or been involved in studies asking employers ‘what they really want’ in terms of workforce skills. These often show that employers express concerns about students’ skills level in certain areas, for instance, communications. But there are two challenges – the number of overlapping studies and the broad definition of these skills. We want to take a summative approach, aiming to come up with a more collective view of skills gaps. We also want to take this to a greater level of detail, looking at specific tasks and functions (for example, in the case of communication this could be about participating in meetings, making presentations, writing emails or drafting reports).


  • Second, we want to understand specifically where young people are being supported to develop exactly those skills. In some cases, this will be in the classroom (e.g. preparing a presentation as a team in a geography class) and in others it will be in ‘extra-curricular’ settings from after school clubs to work experience to scouts.

Taken together this will provide a powerful narrative about the specific skills that employers are looking for, where these are being developed and how schools can give their pupils the best chance of putting them in place to maximise their employability.