Director Unimenta
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Defining the skills gap: what can you actually do?

Before you can learn anything effectively, you need to possess self-awareness. Without this, you cannot hope to grow or progress.

11th Oct 2019
Director Unimenta
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man jumping over a gap between two cliff faces
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From Barking to Bangladesh, there is a skills gap. Quite literally at opposite ends of the world and everywhere in between there is a lack in crucial skills for employability and the workplace in general.

I'm not talking about CV writing and interview technique – those are a given and if you don't have these you're not even in the race. Even if you have a degree or other qualifications. I'm not even talking about working well in a team or being able to present well and work to deadlines. So what am I talking about?

The cornerstone of all development is self-awareness. I'm not a psychologist but I am a trainer and I know I can facilitate and create the space for workshop participants to heighten that awareness.

I believe the biggest gap is in self-awareness. How you conduct yourself in the world, understanding what triggers stress, how to use different communication styles, how to be present, focused and in the moment. Being accountable, being resilient, flexible and relaxed. Taking the initiative, being proactive and strong.

Most people do not think about the need to develop such skills or even that it might actually be possible to develop them in the first place.

If you develop and work on these, however, you are far more likely to be a great team worker, a confident presenter, be accountable and reliable and a host of other things that employers want.

You are also likely to be happier in your life and choose to go for work that interests you and that you are good at, or choose to be innovative enough to create a new job that maybe does not even exist yet.

Unfortunately, you can't just attend a training course and be 'proficient' in these kinds of skills – training is not what is needed.

Leaving your comfort zone

That may sound counter-intuitive, but what I believe does work are exercises that help to immediately raise awareness of our capacity for and understanding of these skills.

This happens through leading the group through an exercise designed to focus on, say your comfort zone, and then facilitate reflection and discussion on what happened, what feelings that brought up and relating these to other aspects of our lives and work.

The conversations that can occur during these kinds of sessions are what enable individuals to learn about themselves and understand better how to apply and strengthen these skills. Some of the exercises might be physical in order to get people to really experience how a particular emotion or behaviour feels.

One of the exercises I do in workshops is simply saying 'yes' (ok, it's not that simple - it's actually a fun applied improvisation game) and we do this not just vocally, but with the whole body in order to feel the immense surge of energy that comes with saying 'yes' rather than 'no' (even if it's just a quiet, internal 'no', which is what we all tend to do as a default when something is unexpected or not as planned).

The cornerstone of all development is self-awareness. I'm not a psychologist but I am a trainer and I know I can facilitate and create the space for workshop participants to heighten that awareness.

If you're a teacher or trainer, so can you. 

Interested in this topic? Read Connected leadership: Holding up the mirror to develop self-awareness.

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