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Emotional Intelligence – the New Skills Gap
February 24, 2020
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By Nick Kirk – Managing Director at Michael Page.

Employers want to hire people with emotional intelligence skills but candidates aren’t listing them on applications

There has been a lot of buzz recently around emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ. Back in 2016 the World Economic Forum named emotional intelligence as one of the most important workplace skills needed for success in 2020.

Emotional intelligence is being aware of one’s own emotions and being able to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy.

However, recent research by Michael Page has uncovered a worrying new trend in the UK jobs market: an emotional intelligence skills gap.

The key finding of our study shows that there is a clear disconnect between the skills employers want and those jobseekers are displaying when it comes to emotional intelligence.

Half of the employers surveyed cited emotional intelligence as increasingly important for those entering today’s workforce, ranking it higher than work experience or even holding a degree. However, this is rarely mentioned in candidates’ applications.

Despite emphasis being placed on emotional intelligence by those in hiring positions, just 0.4% of PageGroup applicants over the last year reference empathy in their CV – a key tenet of emotional intelligence – while just 0.81% mention listening as one of their skills.

Emotional intelligence skills are consistently being ranked higher than more traditional skills such as foreign languages or financial acumen.

Essentially emotional intelligence in the workplace comes down to understanding, expressing, managing good relationships and solving problems under pressure.

Our capacity for emotional intelligence is one of the most obvious ways humans have the edge over technological counterparts. What is worrying is that candidates are not highlighting these skills to potential employers, despite clear demand for them.

To help address this I urge companies to look at jobseekers who have clearly evaluated their skillset and highlighted the most valuable ones.

Introducing EQ into the recruitment and assessment process will help to identify the candidates with the right attitude and mindset to work well with colleagues, be advocates of change, and deliver against your organisation’s objectives.

For instance, self-awareness is key to emotional intelligence. Employees who spend time observing and reflecting on their emotional responses to different situations, and who pay attention to their physical reactions, can have a great impact on company culture.

Active listening skills and motivation are also two invaluable traits of EQ. People who possess them understand issues from different perspectives, demonstrate optimism and a desire to build valuable relationships with others, and continually improve their skillset.

However, just as it is important to seek new hires with emotional intelligence, it is vital for managers and other business leaders to operate in emotionally intelligent ways to meet the needs of today’s workers.

Stress can trigger irrational behaviour that is often attributed to low emotional intelligence. Consider the best way to reduce the stress levels within your business – whether that’s allowing employees to take a break from their desks, listen to music, or go for a walk.

Much as people would regularly exercise to stay in shape physically, they need to regularly work on their emotional intelligence skills so that they improve.

Investing in emotional intelligence will result in more engaged, committed employees who will help to move your business forward.

We need to ensure the potential emotional intelligence skills gap in the country is addressed before it becomes a major business issue.

Business leaders should focus on driving change from within their own organisations so employees can follow their example. As the importance of emotional intelligence becomes widely recognised, I hope we will see jobseekers adapt their applications to reflect the behaviour demonstrated by businesses – with both putting EQ high on their list of priorities.

ViewPoint: Special Educational Needs Do Not End at 16
February 24, 2020
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By Clare Howard, Chief Executive, Natspec

The reforms to the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) system contained in the 2014 Children and Families Act were a once in a generation systemic change for young people and their families.

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For the first time, rights and duties were extended from the earliest years to young adulthood, in a new 0-25 system, giving Further Education colleges and providers new statutory obligations.

Post-16 Special Education Needs

The SEND reforms, combined with the raising of the participation age to the 18th birthday, mean that SEND provision does not end at 16. There are increasingly heavy demands on FE – the number of young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) aged 16 to 25 increased from 84,000 to 96,000 between 2018 and 2019.

Whether it is post-16 or post-18/19, the move into further education and training is arguably the least well-developed area of the SEND reforms.

16-18 Year Olds

At some stage between the ages of 16 to 19, these young people and their families will be considering their post-school options. That might be a college place possibly with an element of residential experience, a supported internship, an apprenticeship, or voluntary or paid work.

Leaving school and moving on to something new is both exciting and stressful for any young person, but it can be especially difficult for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, many of whom find change very unsettling. This is further hindered by a funding system that is hard to navigate and lack of information about the full range of options available.

Moving to college (sometimes after 15+ years at the same special school) gives young people a real opportunity for a fresh start; it means making new friends, having new experiences, learning new skills, and experiencing and overcoming new challenges. For many young people it is the ideal stepping- stone from school into adult life.

Expectations for what can be achieved in this last – and shortest – phase of education are rightly set high. The impact of high-quality further education for learners with SEND can be enormous – for the young people themselves, for their families, and for wider society.

But currently there are a number of issues getting in the way. What are they – and how might we resolve them?

Education, Health and Care Plans

EHCPs should be well- constructed, based on realistic and personal aspirations, and contain aspirational and specific outcomes. Evidence collected by numerous reviews, the most recent being the Education Select Committee SEND Inquiry, demonstrates that the vast majority are not. Natspec has recommended that DfE introduce a new national EHCP template and better guidance for writing Plans. Timeliness of assessment and finalisation for plans is also an issue; for new EHCPs, SEN stats published by DfE in 2019 show that only 60% were issued within the statutory 20 week deadline in 2018.

Local Authorities

Local authorities are required to inform families with a full range of options and services on their Local Offer websites. With LAs unfamiliar with the FE landscape, and many being unwilling to fund places outside their own area, many colleges and training providers are not included within Local Offers.

An Ofsted thematic report in 2016 reviewed 20 Local Offer websites, and found 16 which “failed to provide sufficiently detailed information…”. This lack of information was a particular problem for those young people with more complex or profound learning difficulties or disabilities”. Natspec’s own research in 2019 found over half of Local Offers did not list specialist colleges as an option, and mainstream colleges were often hard to locate on websites.

Timeliness Decision Making

The proportion of post-school placements that are confirmed before the March 31 legal deadline each year is tiny.

Specialist colleges are reporting that less than 10% of places are confirmed by June, and many students are left in limbo (with all the increased anxiety that results) into August, September or even later. Natspec would like to see LAs working with all post-16 providers to look at supply and demand, develop strategic plans and work jointly across regional areas to account for FE travel patterns and specialist centres.

Quality Provision

All providers should offer a good range of learning opportunities for students with SEND to meet their needs and interests and build on their strengths. Colleges should have rigorous systems for assuring quality, especially if the learning programme is not accredited, and be providing support that prepares the young person to be increasingly independent, including through use of technology (Natspec’s TechAbility programme brings together the best examples of this).

High Aspirations

And finally, all post-16 and post-19 study programmes should have high aspirations and be based on outcomes.

What kind of adult does the young person want to become? What personalised programme of learning is needed to help them get there? The late teenage and early adult years are critical in determining levels of independence and success in adulthood. And the right education at this stage can save the public purse millions later in life.

Clare Howard, Chief Executive, Natspec

DBS Launches New Payment Option for Online Basic DBS Checks

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is introducing a new feature for applicants that apply for their basic check directly to DBS, using our online application route.

Graphic showing laptop, saying basic DBS checks, new payment feature.

From today, 20 February 2020, when an individual applies for their basic check directly to DBS, they will be able to select a ‘Someone else is paying’ option. They will receive an email that contains a payment link, which can then be forwarded to the person that is going to be paying for their check. The check can be paid for by debit or credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Research highlighted that employers wanted to be able to pay for their employees’ checks, but it was often inconvenient, costly and time-consuming, as payment previously needed to be taken during the application process.

Allan Robinson, Product Owner of the basic service, said,

Since we launched the service in January 2018, we have constantly looked for new ways to make the application process quicker, easier and more user-friendly. This new payment option is just one of the many features we’ve added since its launch. DBS recognises that people’s lifestyles and working patterns have changed, and so have their needs. Our focus is to develop great solutions that solve our customers’ problems. The ‘someone else is paying’ feature provides for a simpler way for employers and organisations to pay for basic DBS checks.

More information about basic DBS checks can be found here.