Since its launch six months ago REED NCFE’s Baseline Employability Skills Test (BESTest) has been taken by over 15,000 students in England. The results provide a unique insight in to the employability skills profile of your students and, more importantly, tells us what we all want to know; what specifically are the main employability skills challenges faced by your students?

BESTest is a psychometric assessment which accurately and objectively assesses your students’ employability skills. It measures both the ‘hard’ skills such as CVs, interview skills and workplace behaviours as well as the all-important ‘soft’ skills such as motivation, resilience and professionalism. It provides a detailed picture of your students’ strengths and weaknesses, thereby enabling you to develop an individualised learning plan, accurately measure distance travelled and evidence impact of learning.

The table below summarises the results from over 15,000 students, ranking at no. 1 the most common strength of students (professionalism) and at no. 10 the most common weakness (CVs):

Rank Indicator
1 Professionalism
2 Sociability
3 Motivation
4 Interview Skills
5 Workplace Behaviours
6 Organisation
7 Resilience
8 Job Search
9 Initiative
10 CV


So professionalism, sociability and motivation are the ‘soft’ skill strengths with interview skills and workplace behaviours the ‘hard’ skill strengths. There is clearly a strong correlation between these ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills.  For example, if you are professional in your approach to work and display good inter-personal skills then the chances are you’ll display both good interview skills and workplace behaviours.

This is fantastic news. If you can get your students in front of local employers’ chances are that they will represent the College well, impress the employer and succeed in their application. This is particularly important when we think of employability skills in the context of a work experience placement.

Conversely, however, when we look at the weaknesses identified; organisation, resilience and initiative in ‘soft’ skills and job search and CV in ‘hard- skills, we can see an equally strong correlation. For example, if you are disorganised in your approach and are easily disillusioned in the face of obstacles then chances are your job search skills will be low.

Herein lies the conundrum. In the real world, when your students leave College, the first steps that everyone needs to take - (i) find a job opportunity and (ii) apply for it using a CV – are the two areas of greatest weakness. Without these skills, most of your students will simply never get in front of an employer and therefore will never get to show off their strengths – namely; good interview skills and good workplace behaviours. What a waste.

Information like this will be invaluable to you when deciding what employability skills to focus on and how best to teach them. The BESTest assessment provides this information not just for each individual student, but also for each class, for each subject area, for each curriculum area and, of course, for the College as a whole. 

If you would like to find out how you and your students can benefit from the unique insight that BESTest provides, please contact REED NCFE’s Commercial Manager, Stephen King, on 07712 324022 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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