Top 5 skills employers look for in 2021

Here at TQUK, we understand that applying for jobs can be difficult. Industries are becoming more competitive and understanding the specific skills that are needed to get into a chosen sector can be complicated. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of young people aged 18 – 24 years who were not in education, employment or training from January to March 2021 was at a record low of 679,000. With a record low that has been relatively flat since 2017, how do we continue to decrease the number of young people who are unemployed?

As an Ofqual regulated Awarding Organisation, we develop qualifications that will support you in gaining the knowledge and skills that you need to power forward in your career. In honour of World Youth Skills day, we want to help young people understand what employers look for when hiring. 

World Youth Skills day aims to celebrate the resilience and creativity of young people who have experienced challenging times due to COVID-19. During 2020, global youth employment fell by 8.7% due to the pandemic.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top five skills that employers are looking for in 2021. Not only will you gain a better understanding of what employers are seeking, but you’ll be able to see which TQUK qualifications will support you in building these skills.

Sit back, relax and be prepared to update your CV because we’ve got you covered.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Communication in the work place is key. Whether you’re communicating with your manager and colleagues or customers, you need to know how to clearly and concisely communicate with the people around you. Having the ability to build rapport, persuade and negotiate isn’t specific to one certain industry. You can build good communication skills by working in hospitality or hairdressing, or even from a presentation you did back in a Year 9 English lesson. 

The TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Business Administration (RQF) qualification includes units that focus on principles of developing working relationships with colleagues and principles of communication in a business environment.


Even if you aren’t applying for a role that’s specifically in management, it’s important to have this skill as it shows an employer that if the time comes, you’ll be ready to take the lead. A growing, successful team is underpinned by individuals who have the ability to motivate and lead others to achieve their goals. 

But leadership isn’t only about managing others. 

Self-management is important as it allows you to prioritise work, manage your time and control your actions, feelings and thoughts in a productive manner. Employers favour this skill as it showcases that regardless of the situation, you can show resilience and persistence in getting the job done. 

We offer a range of Leading and Management qualifications, such as TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Team Leading (RQF). The qualification is available through The Skills Network, meaning that it’s fully funded and available online for learners to start when and wherever they want.

Computer and Social Media Skills

Social media is a big part of society. When it’s not being used for posting witty videos to Tik Tok and Twitter, businesses are using social media for many different reasons. From connecting with consumers and solving customer service queries to keep up with their competitors, businesses are advancing using social media. 

World Skills UK reported in a study that 92% of businesses say that having a basic level of digital skills is important for employees. While social media may not be a big part of the role that you’re applying for, employers want individuals who can digitally help the business grow and reach the next level of success.

The TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Business Administration (RQF) contains the following units to help you with your social media skills:

  • Exploring social media
  • Understanding the safe use of online and social media platforms
  • Principles of digital marketing

Again, this is available to study through The Skills Network, fully remote and funded.


The rise of remote working has seen many companies working from different locations. While your manager may be at home with their cat, your colleague may be in a coffee shop with a fresh cappuccino – COVID- 19 has introduced big changes to how companies work. Despite the different locations, it’s important that you can make the conscious effort to work as a team and produce projects that each team member has contributed towards. 

The TQUK Level 4 Diploma in Management and Leadership (RQF) provides units covering the principles of building respectful and productive working relationships in organisations.


Building up resilience in the work place is important. How well you deal with setbacks shows employers your true potentialEmployers acknowledge that individuals may struggle but understand that it’s the ability to bounce back which is more important. It’s no secret that everyone makes mistakes, you just need the capability to address and rectify them in the workplace without it affecting your work or other team members. 

The TQUK Level 3 Award in Developing Emotional Awareness and Resilience in the Workplace (RQF) helps individuals develop skills and strategies to make the workplace environment emotionally safe for themselves and others.

If you’re a centre of TQUK, why not branch out and start to offer some of these qualifications to your local communities?

For more information on the qualifications we offer, visit our website or give us a call to chat with one of our customer service team members, who will be happy to help – 03333 583 3344.

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10 TQUK qualifications listed in Lifetime Skills Guarantee programme

Nearly 400 level 3 courses will be available for learners to study for free from April 2021 as part of the government’s plan to get those affected by redundancy during the COVID-19 pandemic back to work.  

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee programme was announced by the Prime Minister in September and the qualifications that are a part of it, including 10 of ours, are all fully funded to adult learners who do not currently hold a full qualification at level 3 or equivalent.  

The full list of 379 can be viewed here, and we’re delighted to list our qualifications below. Click each link to view the qualification specification 

The TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Understanding Substance Misuse (RQF) and the TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Understanding Autism (RQF) are available with a full range of online resources from our friends at The Skills Network 

Our Managing Director, Andrew Walker, sees this as a crucial step for the country and its workforce: “We here at TQUK are always looking for ways to make a positive impact with our work, so it’s great to see ten of our qualifications listed in the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee programme. 

“The qualifications listed here, both from ourselves and our fellow Awarding Organisations, will provide tangible opportunities for those affected by job losses during the pandemic, opening up new pathways and helping them reboot or relaunch their careers.” 

If you’d like to learn more about how to offer any of the TQUK qualifications that are a part of Lifetime Skills Guarantee or ask any questions about the programme itself, please get in touch with us at   

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Training Qualifications UK and The Skills Network partnership continues to go from strength to strength

We here at Training Qualifications UK (TQUK) believe an innovative, forward-thinking approach is vital to pushing the sector forwards.

Over the past few years, we’ve been working hard with The Skills Network, our strategic partner for learning technology and learning resources, to develop new ways of doing this, and the relationship continues to grow.

The partnership already covers a vast range of learning resources related to our regulated qualifications, and as distance and blended learning become the new normal, a number of new learning resources are planned for release throughout the year.

The technology we can now offer as a partnership is unrivalled and perfect for the environment that faces us in the new academic year – with uncertainty of face to face delivery and the increased demand for learning technology.

Our technology offer includes:

  • A powerful learner management system to deliver qualifications
  • A new online diagnostic builder to create individualised learning plans
  • Paper-based and online learning resources for funded distance or blended delivery – exclusive with TSN’s learning resources
  • Online content for apprenticeships and non-regulated AEB delivery
  • E-certificates supplied by TQUK
  • The Verve management platform that helps simplify the administrative process
  • API integration to seamlessly connect your internal system to Verve

Andrew Walker, Managing Director at TQUK, said: “When TSN and TQUK joined forces in 2018, our vision was to create a service for our centres that was one of the most innovative, high quality and cost effective in the sector.

Our hard work and commitment to this has seen us realise this vision probably sooner than we all thought but we are delighted to see our centres utilising the tools available to them and transform the way in which the sector operates.”

James Earl, Executive Director at TSN, said: “We have seen some great examples of excellence, quality and outstanding learning – using both organisation’s system and processes.

It is fantastic to see the buy-in from providers, as well as so many new providers joining both TQUK and TSN to utilise our products and services. We’re both very excited to continue our relationship and transform the way organisations operate and give exciting learning experiences, as well as changing the perception of the sector to be a tech-enabled innovator.”

One of the latest training providers to join us on our journey is Back2Work Group, which has announced TSN and TQUK as its strategic partners.

Utilising TSN’s leading learning technology and online content, whilst benefitting from TQUK’s e-certification and innovative methodology, has allowed the organisation to continue to deliver a quality experience to their learners and customers during lockdown.

Luke Muscat, Managing Director at Back2Work Group, said: “We’re delighted to continue our partnership with both TSN and TQUK. Our relationship has gone from strength to strength as the technology, learning content and quality of service both organisations provide is unrivalled in the sector.”

James Earl, Executive Director at The Skills Network, said: “Organisations like Back2Work are vital for the sector. They can see the vision of what we’re trying to achieve in a partnership between ourselves and TQUK – giving the learning content and operational technology needed to provide a great experience for learners, whilst innovating in delivery and compliance.

“We’re excited to work with Luke and the team in the future to further develop products and services that will fly the flag for innovation and outstanding delivery.”

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“Suffering from Mental Health is something you shouldn’t hide or be ashamed of.” – GB Olympic gold medallist Shona McCallin MBE talks brain training with TQUK.

From the highs of winning an outstanding gold medal with Team GB at the 2016 Rio games against the Netherlands to suffering a tour-ending concussion in February 2018 during a game against Argentina, Shona has already had to deal with an enormous amount of physical and mental strain, all by the age of 26.

For any athlete, the pinnacle of achievement is performing at the Olympics, and this alone will place a tremendous amount of strain on the mind, but the strain and frustration of not being able to play at all, or very little, since her concussion earlier this year has posed all sorts of new questions for Shona’s mental well-being.

“Concussion is a really difficult thing to understand and treat.” Says McCallin.

“In terms of rehab, I have experienced 3 strands.”

  • The physical rehab e.g. starting running, gym exercises, biking.
  • The psychological rehab e.g. resting the brain, practicing mindfulness.
  • The emotional rehab e.g. keeping emotions constant, strategies to help avoid stress/anxiety.

“The rehab process is therefore complex as you have to manage all of the three strands. It’s all based on symptoms, for me, it has been headaches, neck pain and eye pain.

“I had to consciously keep stress and emotions low in order to help my brain before I could start any form of exercise.”

In a previous interview with the Hockey Paper, Shona states the effects of the concussion started almost instantly after her head collided with the shoulder of an Argentinean player. Feeling sick and having a headache were the early warning signs before developing into fatigue, balance problems and sensitivity to light and sound.

During recovery, Shona controlled her exposure to social media and any emotional situations and then, once doctors permitted, she slowly started to increase her physical activity and social situations to build her strength, both body and mind in recovery.

“My injury has further highlighted the importance of the brain and the need to look after it and train it. Whether that is making sure you are talking to people to help with emotions, practicing mindfulness or having strategies in place to help with confidence or relaxation.”

A few months ago, Shona decided to undertake the TQUK Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness (RQF) via The Skills Network after conducting some research about mental health qualifications.

“I’ve always been proactive and interested in the part mental health plays in life and in sport. I really do believe that at the level of sport I play, you need to be strong mentally.

“The difference between a good player, a great player and a world-class player has a lot to do with the mind. Can they handle the pressure? Can they make the right decisions constantly under pressure? Can they maintain confidence throughout setbacks? Can they perform under stress and fatigue?

“It was an interesting qualification which provided a wide range of information on Mental Health. Some things I was aware of some I wasn’t. It was easy to fit into my spare time alongside training and I could complete at my own pace.”

The Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness (RQF) is designed to help develop learners’ knowledge and understanding of mental health issues. It develops and recognises any personal knowledge and skills to help encourage a healthy lifestyle, and prepares the learner for further training.

The qualification can help the learner to acquire skills in supporting family members who may have suffered or may be suffering a mental illness by ensuring they understand the signs and symptoms to look out for and how best to help people.

It can also help you to understand your own mental health and well-being, identifying possible causes and triggers and how to avoid them and outlining when and where to look for help and support.

After completing her first qualification in mental health, Shona is eager to follow this up with the Level 2 Certificate in Mental Health Awareness (RQF) with GB Hockey team psychologists encouraging players to understand training of the brain as much as the body.

“I think if you look at how far society has come in the last 10 years, in terms of talking about Mental Health, we as a society are going in the right direction.

“10 years ago, people were ashamed to speak to psychologists and it was often seen as a weakness in sport. Nowadays, especially in the GB Hockey squads, Mental Health is talked about and discussed much more openly.

“I think this has helped us realise the ability the brain has on performance and it needs to be trained.”

The prevalence of poor mental health in sport has been well documented over the years, from the rigors of playing at a high, professional, level to having the courage to take part in sports at school.

And, as experienced by Shona, the strain placed on the mind when an injury occurs can be significant, leading to a long road to recovery or even being career ending. Understanding the mind and having the correct avenues of support available in the aftermath of an injury is crucial.

“I think society has highlighted that suffering with Mental Health is something you shouldn’t hide or be ashamed of.

“Various sports professionals, celebrities and members of the Royal Family have come out in the last 5 years and highlighted how important it is to talk and look after your mental health.”

For more information on the Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness (RQF) please visit the Health and Social Care section on TQUK website or alternatively, you can see the qualification outline via The Skills Network.


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