The importance of time management skills

When I worked on What Employers Want, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) provided a fund of useful information. The thirty commissioners who lead this social partnership include business leaders
 and heads of further and higher education institutions from across the UK.

‘The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) works with industry and government to help achieve better outcomes in how people get in and on in work and how businesses succeed through the skills and talents of their people.’

If you’re interested in employability skills – and particularly in where skills shortages exist – I recommend consulting the Employer Skills Survey 2015 Skills in the labour market. Its data is based on research carried out with more than 91,200 employers and the survey is carried out biennially so its information is current.

Among the findings in the 2015 edition, the UKCES reports that the number of skill-shortage vacancies has increased by 43% and this is having a significant impact on business. It’s important that both employers and policy-makers recognise these shortages and work together to improve the situation.

I was particularly interested by the statistics relating to ‘soft’ skills that were hard to find among job applicants.

These make interesting reading for anyone preparing young people for the workplace. By far the biggest shortage (47%) is in applicants who can manage their time and prioritise tasks efficiently.

Time management is a problem for most of the adults I know: too much to do, too little time; a scatter gun approach to getting things done; attempts to get organised usually defeated by the inevitable bout of firefighting that makes a mockery of your plans.

So imagine what it’s like for young people. As children, their time is usually organised for them: get up; get dressed; get your homework done; get ready for football/guitar/swimming practice; go to bed and turn that phone off! Then suddenly they are adolescents and are expected to organise themselves, just like that.

Time management and prioritising tasks is one of the topics that What Employers Want deals with through simple explanations and exercises. Obviously these few pages are not going to make anyone an expert – but they do serve a purpose: they introduce the idea that controlling what we do and when we do it is a skill that can be taught and mastered. And if any young person you know can display proficiency in managing their time, it may give them an edge when they enter the job market.


For further information on employability skills read

What Employers Want

by Karen Holmes