Employability Skills

Employability skills, also known as generic skills, capabilities or key competencies, are skills required by individuals to both gain employment and also to continue to develop, progress and advance in a chosen career or vocation.  Developing these skills is important for all secondary school students, particularly those with any type of disability.

Whilst technical knowledge is important, it is generally agreed that employers look for these employability skills when choosing staff.  They are –

–  Communication

–  Teamwork

–  Problem Solving

–  Self- management

–  Planning and organisation

–  Technological competence

–  Life-long learning

–  Initiative and enterprise

Because of the nature of the disability, students with speech/language impairment will more than likely experience difficulty with many of these skills, particularly communication, problem solving, organisation and initiative.  Strategies implemented in the school context can significantly improve outcomes for students in these areas.

There are also personal attributes that contribute to overall employability.  These attributes include things such as –

–  loyalty, commitment, honesty and integrity, enthusiasm, reliability, personal presentation, common sense, positive self esteem, a sense of humour, a balanced attitude to work and home life, an ability to deal with pressure, motivation and adaptability.

Again, because of the nature of speech/language impairment, young people may experience difficulties with developing any number of these attributes especially self esteem, understanding and developing a sense of humour, and adaptability.  The role of educators and allied health professionals (especially counselors and psychologists) in supporting the development of these attributes should not be underestimated.

All of these skills and attributes are important considerations when planning transitional and vocational activities for high school aged students, especially those with a disability such as SLI which places them at a distinct disadvantage in the post school employment market.

Pam McDonald – Let’s Talk Outreach Services

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