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Employability skills needed in the 21st century workplace

Updated on November 17, 2014


Fact : Fresh graduates lack the employability skills needed in the 21st Century workplace.

Idea : Chances of being hired can be increase with good employability skills.

Learning issue /Research: So what are employability skills?

What kind of employability skills are needed to thrive in the 21st century workplace?


Top 4 job skills

Definition :

Employability skills are essential abilities involving the development of a knowledge base , expertise level and mindset to thrive in work.

Research :

In 2010, University of Exeter conducted a study on 7 multinational companies namely Nokia , Siemens , Shell , Verizon , Cargill , Apple and Tesco on employability skills that they looked out for when recruiting.

The findings were compiled and the following are the top 4 favorites :

a) Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Skill

b) Initiative and Self-Motivated Skill

c) Presentation skill

d) Teamwork skill

Which job skill is the most important to your career?

See results

a) Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Skill

To identify , use and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress , communicate effectively , empathize with others , overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

b) Initiative and Self-Motivated Skill

To have a strong personal drive ,not waiting to be instructed to do things , taking steps to add value to and improve your company selflessly.

c) Presentation Skill

Being able to express eloquently and confidently to the audience. Also required to be clear and concise.

d) Team Work Skill

To be able to work well with others from different disciplines , backgrounds, and expertise to accomplish a task .Your past accomplishments in an extra curriculum activity(ECA) group and work experience from temporary jobs will reflect your teamwork capability.


Different Opinions

Mixed Views

A survey was carried out on employers’ perceptions of the employability skills by University of Glasgow SCRE Centre in 2009 and Edge Foundation in 2011.

The results showed that majority of them believed that good employability skills were the priority compared to a degree. .

They added that a degree was a bonus to their eligibility for recruitment but added little to a long-term employability.

Conclusion/ Verdict

Actions to achieve improvements

Since the survey has concluded majority employees prioritize employability before degrees and education qualifications, you can improve your employment chances with -

1 ) Presentation skill:

Toastmasters is a great place to pick up public speaking skills and confidence.Practice on your speech in front of a mirror or get someone to review how you present.To be able to carry yourself out well is what you want for presentation skill.

2) Initiative and self motivated skill : Maintain a positive attitude and be observant to spot and act on opportunities that others have not noticed. Make a genuine commitment to personal excellence and strive to do your best in whatever you do.

3) Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Skill :There are many subcategories in practicing EQ so I recommend reading two books on honing your skills. Carter,P. (2011). Test your Emotional Intelligence. United States. Kogan Page Limited. Alder,H. (2010). Boost Your Intelligence. United States. Kogan Page Limited. EQ is hard to understand and learn just by reading so practicing how to execute it is important.

4) Teamwork Skill : Get involved with an organization like volunteer groups to practice teamwork. Get temporary jobs and work there for at least 6 months or longer for it to be considered work experience. Try to work in organizations that are relevant to the jobs that you will be applying in future for a stronger standing point during interview.

Unlike education qualifications( e.g. Degree) that require constant upgrading , a relevant skill equips you for life and weathers recession. A combination of these skills will greatly benefit your chances with recruiters, help you keep the job and stay afloat and enhance your experience with colleagues at work.


More Job Skills


Bresnahan, T., Brynjolfsson, E., & Hitt, F. (2006). Information Technology , Workplace organization , and the Demand for Skilled labor : Firm Level Evidence [PDF file]. Retrieved From

Employability. (2014). Top 10 Employability Skills [PDF file]. Retrieved From

Lowden, K., Hall, S. , & Elliot, D. (2011). Employers’ perceptions of the employability skills of new graduates. United Kingdom: Edge Foundation

Skills.(2014). Top 5 Employability Skills to Help You Nail That Interview |Advice and Tips| CourseKing. [webpage]. Retrieved From


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