The Bizenko “Employability skills” survey

Ugly word, important concept.

Employability skills refer to the skills that employers would like all new employees to have. There doesn’t appear to be a universally accepted definition, but it’s generally understood that the list of desired skills includes, numeracy, literacy, team-working, communication skills, IT Literacy, Self management and attitude as well as commercial awareness. (Bizenko take commercial awareness to be the most important, for reasons we’ll explain later).

Bizenko is a website to improve the transition from education into employment. We want to improve the system for both individual job seekers and employers alike. On this basis, we thought we’d do some market research into the employability skills that seem to be so central to the apprentice / graduate recruitment debate.

The survey was sent out via a third party company, and the results were collated from 1,000 respondents aged between 18-24

It turns out that 10% of this sample had never heard of Employability skills. These people have got some work to do, especially if they hope to get a job in the next two years. We have massive sympathy for these people. Their careers are being determined by recruiting managers, assessing them on skills they don’t yet know.

A further 30% had heard about employability skills, but had no idea how strong their skills were compared to their competition in the employment market place. This is possibly no surprise as you never really know your competition in a job race. If you’re the sort of person who likes to be fully prepared for an interview, you’d probably appreciate knowing how you rank in the grand scheme of things.

29% of the survey had heard of employability skills, but they were not confident that theirs were strong compared to others in the market place. Again, it’s very difficult to know how your competition fare in this regard, so we must assume that these people feel in need of some assistance (please register with Bizenko, the website is designed to bring you up to speed!)

And finally, 32% had heard of employability skills, and felt that their own skills were sufficiently strong when compared to others. Everyone loves confidence, so this group sound well-placed. One note of caution…….. as an employer, and given the fact we never get to know the relative strengths of our competition, this group may find Bizenko is useful to them too. If employers are looking for self-management and attitude, then ignoring the chance of assistance, might be seen in a bad light.

The second question was: “To what extent do you agree with the following idea? “Generic Employability skills” are potentially meaningless unless they are put in the context of a work environment. For example, strong communication skills are not as effective as they might be if you don’t know anything about the business siutuation in which they can be applied and IT Skills are diminished unless you understand the business implications of the problem that your IT skills can resolve”

32% “Agreed strongly” with this statement, and 53% “Agreed slightly”. In total 85% agreed (to some extent) with the sentiment, and again, that makes sense to us. The status quo for job-seeking has it that exam qualifications and “transferable / soft” skills can help to make a successful application…….. but can it? There are very few people who cannot communicate. Clearly some people are more polished communicators than others, but come on employers, try to be a bit more helpful than this!!!What sort of communication are you interested in?

This is the reason why we think “commercial awareness” is the most important of the employability skills. Once you understand the commercial context in which the generic skills are required, you can make sustainable career progress. Student job-seekers should demand more from the job application process. Instead of being made to submit themselves for selection according to extraneous criteria, they should demand some tangible, substantive business related outcome to any job application. We think the mentality should be something like this……… “I want a job, and I want to fill in this application form, but please don’t assume that you can ignore my need to develop. In exchange for my time, please give me something substantial and useful that I can learn from (ps, advice about how to write a CV doesn’t cut it!)

Bizenko aims to plug this gap. We can’t promise our subscribers a job, but we can promise you that what you learn with us will be useful to you over 40 years or so of your career. You can’t feed yourself or repay student loans by making job applications. You need to have some commercial skill that will help you get paid for your expertise.

The final survey question was to do with the responsibility for planning an individual’s career. 64% stated that they saw the responsibility as being their own. 18% felt it was “Probably” their responsibility (but they’d rather find an employer who would take care of it instead of the individual) 11% thought career planning was the responsibility of the education system and career development thereafter was the role of the employer, and 7% weren’t sure.

So, some really interesting results. The transition “status quo” doesn’t appear to us to be very helpful to the students. The individuals (here in the UK at any rate) are required to narrow their academic options from the age of 14, long before many people know what they want to do for a living. They are then asked to narrow those options again aged 16, and then again aged 18.

Why? This is madness, isn’t it? I recall giving up Maths as soon as I could (after GCSE), and spent a happy time in the 6th form congratulating myself for being so clever! I realised from the age of about 21 what an error it had been. Understanding the commercial world requires you to know about numeracy. The system isn’t designed to help you identify, plan and develop your career. Employers use academic results as an easy filter.

If you want to identify, plan and develop your career (and if you haven’t realised it yet, you are the only one who cares enough to do it properly) then you need to know more than the education system teaches you about the commercial skills that will help you to do that. Bizenko could be your saviour!

Please check out the full website at in order to find out more about how we can help you.

PS – we’re not trying to denigrate teachers, lecturers and employers, but we are spelling out some truths that might not be made explicit to you otherwise. The education system wasn’t designed to teach you about the commercial world. What we’re trying to point out is that, because it doesn’t teach you about this, you need to make up the shortfall yourself!!!

By admin

Bizenko has been created by Nick Palmer to bridge the gap between education and employment. Basically, Nick was miffed when he graduated and didn't understand the commercial world, and once he'd learned a little bit more, he was miffed that the people he needed to employ didn't understand the commercial world. On a hunch that there were lots of people who didn't understand the commercial world, he devised a solution that would save willing participants the cost and heartache Nick incurred to resolve the problem. We hope you enjoy the service.