Gaining key employability skills through work experience

12th March 2018

Employers are increasing looking for undergraduates that have a range of transferable skills. Often called soft skills, these can range from collaborating with team members to problem solving. Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends Report, highlights how high on the agenda these skills are, so much so that 92% of respondents rated soft skills as a critical priority. This is because executives now consider soft skills important in fostering employee retention, improving leadership and building a meaningful culture.

Work experience provides an important opportunity for undergraduate students to gain and expand these transferable skills that employers desire. Unknowingly, students will already be developing the critical skills through their university education, such as team working and communication skills. But offering work experience enables students to learn how to adapt these into a work environment, whilst at the same time increasing their commercial awareness.

Platforms such as Placer – a new work experience app that directly connects businesses with university and college students – understands the high demand of transferable skills in the current economy and the importance employers hold on them. This is why Placer has developed Employability Skills Badges. These badges will be awarded by employers to students using the Placer app once they complete a work experience placement. They are designed to help students identify key skills they will need for future employment and to showcase the skills they have already gained to employers offering work experience placements.

After analysing employer research identifying the gaps in soft skills, including the UKCES Employer Skills Survey, we identified six key skill sets to represent through Placer’s Employability Skills Badges, these are:


  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Persuading or influencing others
  • Making speeches or presentations
  • Numeracy

Handling others

  • Managing or motivating others
  • Team working
  • Self-control
  • Dealing with difficult situations
  • Giving and receiving feedback


  • Time management
  • Task prioritisation
  • Appearance

Sales and customer skills

  • Knowledge of organisation and products/ services offered
  • Negotiating
  • Customer handling
  • Sales/business development

Business awareness

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Risk taking
  • Innovative thinking
  • Information and digital literacy

Personal attributes

  • Creativity
  • Dynamism
  • Resilience
  • Objectivity

After a work experience placement has been successfully completed, employers will be asked to complete an online form in which they can identify which indicators a student has demonstrated. For a student to gain a skills badge they need to demonstrate at least three listed indicators within the skill set.

It is important for an employer to provide valuable feedback to a student once a placement has been completed, and these skills badges can help employers with the process.

These badges allow employers to provide recognition for the students’ great work, and helps students acknowledge what skills they have successfully developed through the work experience placement. It also helps students identify areas in which they can improve and build on before they start their career search.   

If managed well, a well-structured work experience can add clout to a student’s CV. Employers who offer work experience are responsible for ensuring that the work placement is of value and can boost the student’s employability after studies - these badges show the organisations commitment in doing this.

If you’re an employer looking to offer work experience, or you already do, find out more and register with Placer 

David Barker is Project Director of Placer

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