Making yourself employable

Not everyone has experience of the world of work before leaving university. Some students will worry that they do not have enough skills for the workplace to make them stand out as a candidate. Cardiff University has a ‘Skills Development Service’ (SDS) to help students in this area. In this interview, John Steele, the Training and Development Manager for SDS explains all:

What can the Skills Development Service offer students?

The Skills Development Service offers students the ability to learn the ‘soft skills’ needed in order to operate successfully in the workplace. We help students to obtain the knowledge and attitudes that are synonymous with those required by employees in order to hold down a job. We also offer sessions to boost confidence and overcome stress and anxieties as well as providing courses which are externally accredited. In essence, the SDS gives students similar opportunities to what staff undertaking training programmes as employees would do within an organisation. We can thus give them a head start on their competitors in this respect.

What types of courses available to students?

There are three main categories of courses: Certificate of Professional Development (CPD), Progression and Wellbeing Certificate and externally-accredited courses. The CPD focuses on communication, leadership skills and personal effectiveness. The Progression and Wellbeing Certificate helps improve confidence in the workplace. Finally, we offer several types of externally-accredited courses, including first aid, health and safety and British sign language.

How do students get involved?

Students can sign up online. We gained initial interest during Freshers’ Week or through word of mouth. We also work in collaboration with many schools offering in-curricula opportunities. For example Engineering offer us around 300 students who we will involve in these opportunities around five times every academic year.

Do you feel that enough students know about the Skills Development Service?

Not really. One of our obstacles is that being a Students’ Union function. We may be viewed by students as a ‘low priority’ in the grander scale behind such interests as societies, sport, club events etc. In some respects we are all competing for the same student.

Do you feel that a good number of students use the opportunity?

I sense that many out there feel that what we offer doesn’t apply to them and that there are more interesting and important things to be had. This is a shame as many don’t really think about their future and employability until they are in their third year when they are too busy to take on extra-curricular activities. Others don’t think about it until the end of their degree when it might be too late. However, we have a loyal following each year and a high proportion are international students where this type of service is seen as very important, life-enhancing and too good to turn down.

What would you say is the thing that students struggle with most?

Definitely presentation skills. This skill is demanded more and more within academia, interviews and jobs these days. Many students are terrified of the thought of presentations and this is no doubt why it’s our most popular session.

Want to know more about this great opportunity? Visit their website:

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