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Build POWER SKILLS to increase your employability

12 May 2023

Individuals can differentiate themselves by developing and documenting their power skills while at university.

Author: Dr Karina de Bruin, Managing Director, JVR Academy    


The fact that South Africa is suffering from a high unemployment rate may cause a lot of worries to many of us while studying at university. Many young people do not find a job because of the mismatch between their education or training, and labour market needs and requirements. Another concern is the prediction that technology is going to replace people in many jobs.    


There is hope!

Bad news, yes! But … there’s hope!  The Harvard Business Review, Deloitte, and many other publications highlight several human characteristics that would be extremely relevant in the future world of work. These include imagination, creativity, problem-solving, and strategic mindedness.


Work activities that involve these abilities are not that easy to automate and therefore the involvement of people (rather than robots) is almost guaranteed. Furthermore, a basic internet search of non-technical workplace skills and analyses of job advertisements have confirmed the importance of these and many other skills. These include among others teamwork, communication, emotional intelligence, self-management, negotiation, planning and organising, initiative, critical thinking, resilience, and adaptability. These skills are often commonly referred to as 21st century skills or employability skills. We call them POWER SKILLS.


POWER SKILLS are skills that are necessary for finding, keeping, and being successful in a job. In times of high unemployment and work environments marked by technological take over, employers have a wider choice of applicants and will favour those who stand out from the rest.


Differentiate yourself!

To stand out from the thousands out there in the same position as you, you need to have well-rounded POWER SKILLS. Being at university provides the perfect opportunity to develop these skills. You just need to find these opportunities, take part in them, and consciously work on developing and documenting them. As a simple exercise, ask yourself the following questions and list the skills that you use in these situations:

  • Which activities demonstrate TEAMWORK? (Remember about all those group assignments!)

  • Where do I need to use CRITICAL THINKING? (Don’t just memorise your work – have a critical opinion that you discuss in the test paper!)

  • What LEADERSHIP skills do I have? (Yes, now is a good time to list any activity where you were involved in leading others – and it does not have to be a huge thing!)

  • Where did I show RESILIENCE and ADAPTABILITY? (Think about a time where you just had to keep going regardless of difficulties – perhaps even on a daily basis!)

  • How does my involvement with campus societies show that I have EMPATHY and value SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY?

  • Don’t forget about PLANNING, ORGANISING, and TIME MANAGEMENT (which are all crucial for successfully completing your qualification!)


The responsibility to FUTURE PROOF yourself by developing POWER SKILLS, lies in YOUR hands! Go for it! If you want to learn more about POWER SKILLS and how to develop these, please visit: /academy/power-skills


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