Leicester College Blog

Skills Required for the 21st Century Workplace


The Careers team at Leicester College speak to a lot of employers about the job and apprenticeship opportunities they have on offer and the skills they look for in an employee. At the What Career Live event and the National Career Guidance Show which took place in March 2019, Employers repeatedly told us that there a key set of attributes they want to see from candidates both at interview stage, and within the workplace. These are the top skills that some Employers ideally want to see in the 21st Century workplace.

Digital Literacy

Of all the skills Employers mentioned, an individual’s ICT capability was at the top of the list! Few jobs now exist where a computer is not used on a daily basis and advances in technology, medicine, engineering and within education, all rely on people with technical and digital skills to move with the times. Whether it’s showcasing your ability to use Microsoft Office, demonstrating your social media and creative prowess or highlighting your skills in computer programming, consider drawing attention to the fact you have these essential skills by showcasing them on digital CV sites like LinkedIn or Not a CV.


This key skill was also repeatedly mentioned by Employers as a quality they look for when recruiting and once individuals are working. Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a setback and return stronger than before. There will be times when things don’t go your way and you might feel like giving up, but having the ability to meet these challenges head-on and not letting yourself be overcome by the obstacles standing in your way, is an admirable and important quality. It also helps to develop your problem-solving skills and your ability to deal with stress and pressure. So never-give-up and think of examples when you demonstrated resilience so you can mention them at the interview stage.

Enthusiasm, passion and drive

A productive workplace relies on Employees who are enthusiastic about what they do, have a real passion for their role and demonstrate a strong drive to succeed. Always show an Employer at the interview stage that you are enthusiastic about the job you have applied for and ask about developmental opportunities to highlight your drive in bettering yourself. Participating in work experience outside of college and getting involved with productive activities which you do in your own time, all prove your enthusiasm, passion and drive to an Employer.

Take ownership for your own training and development

Employers really like people who take responsibility to better themselves because it highlights your commitment, willingness to learn and initiative. You might want to begin a course which involves independent study or start some work experience. You might follow key people on social media and contact them for a chat about the field of work you are interested in so that you can tell Employers that you have taken productive steps to advance your own knowledge and understanding. You might start an online blog and offer your opinions on the latest fashion trends, or use Instagram to showcase your creative portfolio. Whatever you decide to do, do it with pride and take charge of your development!

Great communication and teamwork skills

It’s no surprise that Employers look for these two skills when recruiting, but many Employers we spoke to also said that the ability to network with other people is really important and it relies on using effective communication skills. Not many jobs exist where you will be working in total isolation, so the ability to work with others and resolve your differences will create a happier and more productive workplace.

Creative in your approach

A lot of Employers look for an individual’s ability to problem solve and think ‘outside the box’ when faced with a challenge. Think of a time when you last dealt with a problem or an obstacle; what did you do to arrive at an answer? Was there anything else you could have done? Was there a unique way you approached someone for work experience or an interview? Did you use a particular approach when you decided to showcase your portfolio online? If you have examples where you used a creative approach, make a note of them and be sure to draw attention to this skill when applying for jobs.


Employers often look for employees who are willing to get involved in new projects, so demonstrating your ability to be enterprising is an advantage. If you get involved in fundraising for a charity, assumed a leadership role as part of a voluntary work experience programme or you took part in setting up a pop-up business at college, all of these activities evidence that you have enterprise skills.

Positive attitude

It’s really important to show Employers you have a positive attitude towards the job you are applying for and within the workplace, once you’re working because it creates an environment which is productive and progressive. You and your work colleagues will also be happier in an environment which is encouraging and supportive, and a positive attitude is infectious; if you demonstrate positivity, it is more likely that people around you will reflect this quality.

The skills, qualities and experience an Employer wants will ultimately depend on the types of job role and the field you want to work in. It’s therefore extremely important to research the company before you decide to make an application and attend an interview to understand its vision, values and aims. Employers will most likely employ people who closely meet their ethos.

If you would like to discuss how best you can show Employers you have these skills, you can see a careers advisor at the college who can support you with job applications, developing your CV and practising interviews. Good luck!

By Sonia Riyait

Sign Up for Updates

Be the first to discover all the latest news, offers, courses and events at Leicester College...