Understanding transferable skills

August, 2021


Skills shortages continue to be the number one issue for businesses across all industries and skill levels.

The importance of transferable skills, also known as portable skills, has never been higher, and while they are generally discussed by jobseekers and recruiters, employers seem more focused on tenure, industry experience and job titles.

While recruiters encourage jobseekers to highlight transferable skills like communication, project management, and teamwork, they are often assessed as secondary to direct experience in a certain industry, which may come down to the fact that assessing transferable skills is more complex.

Due to unparalleled pressures in the labour market right now, a shift in approach to be more flexible in finding staff is no longer a nice thing to do, it’s a must do.

Hiring based on transferable skills widens the pool of candidates considerably and while there are limitations for highly technical roles, focusing on transferrable skills has significant benefits for employers struggling to fill positions at the less technical end of the spectrum.

What does a focus on transferable skills in recruitment look like for employers?

Initially it involves a thorough understanding of what skills are required for a role. Rather than asking for two years’ experience in a related role, ask what skills would someone develop in that time that makes them suitable for the role?

Then you need to ascertain how to assess transferable skills and you might explore competency tests, hand-on interviews, requests of examples of previous work examples, and more.

Induction plans and processes must be strong enough to ensure that new starters’ transferable skills are indeed transferred into the context of their new roles and learning & development opportunities must be assessed from the start.

The intense competition for talent doesn’t have to curb the productivity or growth of your business, you may just have to consider a change in recruitment strategy to increase your pool of applicants and what they bring to the role.

Sonja Rose, Policy Advisor

Share on print
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin