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Understanding and developing transferrable skills in high school

High school is all about developing skills that will benefit you throughout your entire life. Of course you’ll learn to read and write, basic maths, and a multitude of other subjects too. You’ll also learn to understand and start developing a whole bunch of transferrable skills. But what are they, why are they important, and how can you develop them? Let’s find out.

What are transferrable skills?

Simply put, transferrable skills are your abilities and competencies. They’re not job-specific – you’ll use them in lots of different situations and environments. Examples include critical thinking, innovation, decision-making, communication, collaboration, adaptability, self-management, and social awareness.

Why are they transferrable?

These skills are called “transferrable” because regardless of whether you’re in a classroom, working in a part-time job, volunteering, or in a professional career, these skills will always be relevant. So no matter where you go or what you’re doing, these skills will always come in handy.

For example, the ability to communicate effectively is as important in a team project at school as it is in any meeting in a workplace.

Why are transferrable skills important?

Most employers value soft skills just as much as hard skills. They help you adapt to different roles and work environments, and can be used in various jobs and industries.

In today’s rapidly changing job market, having skills that can be applied in different contexts provides a safety net. If your current job becomes obsolete, you can leverage your transferable skills to find a new one. And with the continuous evolution of technology and industry practices, the ability to learn and apply new skills is very valuable as well.

You probably already have lots of these transferrable skills

You might be surprised to learn that you already possess many transferrable skills. Think about the activities you do regularly and then consider the skills they require. Here are some examples:

  • Group projects – these develop teamwork and leadership skills.
  • Class presentations – these hone your public speaking and communication abilities.
  • Balancing schoolwork and extracurriculars – you’re building your time management and organisational skills.
  • Part-time jobs or volunteering – these enhance your customer service, problem-solving, and adaptability skills.

Developing your transferable skills in high school

If you feel like your transferable skills could do with some improvement, don’t stress! That can easily be addressed, even while you’re in school. Here are a few things you can do now to build these important skills.

Participate in extracurricular activities

Joining clubs, sports teams, or student government could help you develop leadership, teamwork, and time management skills.

Take on leadership roles

Whether it’s nominating yourself for student leader roles, heading up a group project, or becoming a club president, taking on responsibility helps you build leadership and decision-making skills.


Volunteering exposes you to diverse environments and challenges, enhancing your problem-solving and adaptability skills.

Work part-time

A job can teach you customer service, time management, and work ethic (with the nice added bonus of some extra cash in your pocket too).

Challenge yourself academically

Advanced courses or new subjects can push you out of your comfort zone, fostering critical thinking and learning strategies.

Writing essays, giving presentations, or simply participating in class discussions can also improve how you convey ideas and make you a communication pro.

Prepare for your future

If you practice and improve these skills continuously, you’ll be ready to illustrate them with examples during job applications and interviews.

Want to find out more about how to build important skills for work and life? You can read more on our website here.


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