The importance of skills

Recently a number of things have reminded me that we spend a disproportionate mount of time on qualifications and not enough on skills.

I was reading an article in which employees were saying how people coming out of university were lacking in the skills they required of new applicants. This is despite 95% of students believing that they left with all of the skills necessary to embark upon their chosen career.

I am not surprised by this as, when I was in university and was getting ready to become a teacher in a secondary school, I remember asking for some sessions on class control and blackboard technique.

My university was happy to deliver lectures on the relative position of the navel in child development, but there was no chance of anything that vaguely resembled classroom skills. It was certainly true that those who can teach and those who cant become lecturers!

This lack of concentration on skills came home to me again very forcefully as a new grandchild entered the family. Despite the child living hundreds of miles away, the wonders of social media created a plethora of questions when dealing with the newborn.

Now don’t get me wrong; we were pleased to be asked for our help, but it did result in an interesting discovery regarding support for new mums. So often, when offering advice, we were told that the latest thinking was opposite to this despite the opposite appearing not to work!

So this led me to researching some of these theories about bringing up babies and I discovered some worrying things. Apart from the conflicting advice on things such as to stimulate or not to stimulate, to pick up or to let cry, and many others, there were some much more worrying findings.

Much of the advice had developed from newspaper articles that had grabbed a single phrase from a press release and created their own theory. Equally worrying was the fact that much of the research had been conducted on a small sample, the samples had not been relevant to the age group in some cases and the results were often inconclusive when the whole paper was read.

Most disturbing of all was the way that authors of baby care books changed their stance in order to create a follow on book. Nowhere was this more evident than the woman that had advocated comforting crying babies for years but needed a new book, presumably as the other was not creating sufficient income.

Suddenly, letting the baby cry became the norm and was justified, not by research, but by the need to assuage the guilt of celebrity mothers who could not afford to be on hand 24/7 for fear of damaging their careers! This was labelled 21 Century baby care to make people think this was the current thinking.

What this has reinforced in me is the fact that we spend far too little time passing on skills that enable people to act freely and of their own volition and that we bound them up with bogus academic theories that continue to restrict rather than empower our young people.

It does not matter whether we are talking building careers or bringing up a child, they are all different and our young people need the skills that enable them to make informed choices of their own rather than pandering to self-serving academics and authors!

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