5 Employability Skills Universities Need to Teach Students

The goal of university is to prepare students for the working world. Not only do institutions need to instil knowledge and information relevant to a student’s chosen industry, but they also need to teach general employability skills.

Employability skills go beyond industry specifics, preparing students for challenges they could meet in any the working world—such as job interviews, meetings, presentations, liaising with clients, and more.

Now, let’s discuss the five key employability skills modern universities should teach students to improve employment outcomes.

  1. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is one of the most critical skills in the workplace. Using this skill, students can find unique solutions and break through existing barriers, revealing innovative ideas.

Employers will look for applicants with clear critical thinking and problem-solving skills when hiring for any position- especially in creative industries. These students will become innovators in their field, offering fresh perspectives and taking their industry in new, pioneering directions.

  1. Initiative

Initiative is one of the most sought-after skills for new graduates. But why?

Well, let’s walk through a few examples.

In some industries, such as sales, managers need employees who can quickly take initiative and make decisions when things get complicated. For instance, a salesperson might need to quickly switch up their pitch if they notice a customer is losing interest.

Initiative is also extremely important for people who work independently. If a worker’s computer freezes up or shuts down, for example, they can take initiative to solve the problem and quickly get back to work.

  1. Conflict resolution

Through conflict resolution, individuals can express themselves, develop a deeper understanding of other people, and learn to compromise. Essentially, conflict resolution is all about finding a solution that suits all parties involved in the disagreement.

Universities can teach conflict resolution by setting up mock scenarios, such as receiving a phone call from an unhappy customer. Group work also helps students naturally develop strong conflict resolution skills.

  1. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise emotions and understand how your own and others’ emotions impact thoughts, behaviours, relationships, and physical health.

This ability to control emotions is an essential skill in the workplace because it can guide workers towards better, more logical, and more clearly formed decisions. Acting on emotional impulse isn’t always the best choice, especially when customers or stakeholders are involved—so employers will look for applicants who demonstrate control.

  1. Communication and collaboration

In the working world, an employee who is confident in their communication and collaborative skills is an employee who succeeds. Universities can teach this by encouraging communication between students through group work, meetings, and online or offline class discussions.

Employers will look for applicants who can listen deeply, empathise with workmates and clients, and work well in a team.


The best way to improve employment outcomes for students at your institution is to teach relevant employability skills, including conflict resolution, initiative, collaboration, conflict resolution, and emotional control. This way, students will feel confident and prepared as they enter the working world, regardless of their industry.


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