Skills for work
Skills that you can transfer to the world of work, and from one job to another as you gain experience
Resources on the Graduate Prospects website:
Your degree ... what next? - transferable skills: Information and advice on identifying and reviewing your transferable skills, and thinking about them in the context of your interests, personality, motivation and values.
Options with your subject: including information about the skills gained from studying your subject.
Applications and interviews - selling your skills: articulating and presenting your skills to employers.
Information about the intellectual and key skills gained from a degree is given on the website of The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Follow the "Assuring standards and quality" link in the navigation at the top of the page; then click on the "Subject guidance" link on the left-hand side which will take you to the page on subject benchmark statements. These documents can be quite detailed, but if you look for the skills sections they are excellent for helping to identify the skills (rather than knowledge) gained through degree study.
All skills (and knowledge) are potentially transferable from the situation in which they were acquired or developed, to other situations; for graduates, the main areas of transfer are from academic study, work experience placements/internships, extra-curricular activities, travel … to full-time employment.
Intellectual (or cognitive) skills are acquired from the study of any discipline; the major skills are:
- critical evaluation of evidence and its interpretation;
- the ability to sustain a logical argument and reach a conclusion that can be defended as reasonable;
- the ability to analyse and synthesise information;
- the ability to compare and contrast theoretical explanations and to integrate different methodologies;
- thinking flexibly and making connections between different parcels of knowledge;
- evaluating professional practice and challenging taken for granted assumptions;
- the ability to model problems mathematically and to attack them quantitatively.
There are also several attitudes which are valued alongside these skills. These are:
- being rigorous in the design of one’s projects;
- being aware of ethical issues, knowing the limitations of one’s data and the techniques used to collect and analyse it;
- being open-minded to challenges to the status quo and willing to examine an issue from several points of view;
- reasoning from evidence while tolerating other interpretations of that evidence;
- being aware of gaps in one’s knowledge and being prepared to learn from others as well as independently.