Careers ladder skills

Climb the Ladder and Shout About Your Skills

 In the UK we have a strange relationship with modesty and being proud of ourselves.  From an early age we are encouraged and moulded and then from about the age of three or four we’re told to “stop showing-off” and “stop troubling your Nan / Uncle / neighbour / friend’s mum with your daft tricks” and so we live in a state of limbo where we develop skills and abilities but we’re supposed to keep them under wraps.

At primary school we love art, drawing, languages, PE and all the other great things we do and then at secondary school where peer-pressure kicks in and we tend to try and blend-in and not be one of the ‘swats’ or ‘nerds’ so again our true skills are hidden and shoved to the bottom of the rucksack along with trying to speak in a French accent or put our hands up too many times.

So, these are the building blocks to our skills and how we present them to the world, or not. What we actually do is hide away from success, criticism and in the main, hide from standing out unless we’re one of those ‘over-achievers who wins everything’ don’t we?

That is until we’re coming up to 16 and we have to apply for sixth form, college, apprenticeships or part-time jobs and suddenly we have to go “TA-DAAAHHHHH” (Jazz-Hands optional) and share how brilliant we are and what skills we have and how we can use them to the benefit of THE WORLD.

Guess what – we don’t have the experience and chutzpah to make ourselves known because we don’t have the self-reflective tools to understand them ourselves – LET ALONE share them publicly.

That’s why I wrote The Ladder: supporting students to successful futures and confident career choices.  Based on 16 years working with over 150,000 young people and developing their skills I’ve learned that we need to start earlier and support their self-development, self-awareness and confidence in their own abilities.

Many of you reading this will identify with what I’ve written above – so let’s take the opportunity to support a more holistic understanding of skills than merely those measured by exams and use different ways to understand and then describe our skills. 

The CASK model in The Ladder (the Continuum for the Acquisition of Skills and Knowledge) is a framework of simple downloadable tools which can help people of all ages to start gathering their thoughts together on their skills, their qualities and how useful they are in the world of work and careers.

To paraphrase RuPaul, “honey, if you don’t understand your skills yourself, how are you gonna explain them to somebody else”?

The Ladder by Andrew Bernard was published in February 2021 by Crown House and Independent Thinking Press. 

Bernie’s company is called Innovative Enterprise and he’s also a Director of National Careers Week. He can be found online at and on Twitter as @EnterpriseSBox.

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