Most skills development courses focus on ‘hard’, functional or specialist skills, gained through vocational training or Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Yet it is ‘transversal’ skills that employers demand the most. These are the skills that help employees to adapt to change throughout their careers. Indeed, UNESCO go as far as saying:
“Transversal skills are increasingly in high demand for learners to successfully adapt to changes and to lead meaningful and productive lives.” (2014)
The challenge faced by employers is that these skills are often hidden and extremely difficult to capture. All employees possess these skills to some extent, but for some they are more developed than others. Being able to recognise and audit learners’ existing transversal skills, and to create strategies to develop their skills further, can bring huge benefits to an organisation and its employees.
But what are examples of transversal skills?
UNESCO defines transversal skills as:
“Skills that are typically considered as not specifically related to a particular job, task, academic discipline or area of knowledge and that can be used in a wide variety of situations and work settings (for example, organisational skills).”
These skills might also be called ‘soft’ or ‘transferrable’, because they are not specific to a particular sector or job role. The term ‘transversal’ refers to the way these skills ‘cut across’ different tasks and roles, just like a transversal line in geometry.
UNESCO gives six categories of transversal skills:
- Critical and innovative thinking
- Interpersonal skills
- Intrapersonal skills
- Global citizenship
- Media and information literacy
Other examples could include problem solving, communication, teamwork and leadership.