Skills Builder Universal Framework launched to bring essential skills into schools and workplaces

  • The Skills Builder Universal Framework for the first time provides a common language for use in the worlds of education and employment
  • Essential skills are proving to be ones heavily required in this time of crisis. These skills can be learned and should be continually developed.
  • Essential Skills Taskforce launch the Skills Builder Universal Framework

In light of the impact COVID-19 is having on our nation’s workforce and businesses, leading organisations in education and skills are today calling for a focus on essential skills with the launch of the Skills Builder Universal Framework.

The framework offers employers, employees, and young people a common approach to develop and describe the transferable essential skills that “almost everyone needs to do almost any job”1. It enables employers to identify these skills in candidates and employees and supports individuals to build them in incremental steps.

The Essential Skills Taskforce members are: Business in the Community; Careers & Enterprise Company; the CIPD; CBI; EY Foundation; the Gatsby Foundation; and Skills Builder Partnership.

The Skills Builder Universal Framework provides a common language of eight essential skills: listening, speaking, problem solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership and teamwork. Building upon its success within education, the Universal Framework will provide both educators and employers with the confidence that they can develop and assess the right skills in the right way.

Sir John Holman, chair Essential Skills Taskforce and Senior Adviser to the Gatsby Foundation said:

“One of the main barriers to making the most of your workforce’s essential skills is the lack of understanding around what skills we and other people have, and how we can describe, measure and develop them. For the first time, this Universal Framework gives us a shared language and shared understanding across education and across different workplaces to help employers to get the best from their workforce and to help people to better manage the points of transition in their lives.”

John Holland-Kaye, Chair of Business in the Community’s Employment and Skills Leadership Team and Chief Executive Officer at Heathrow, said:

“The COVID-19 crisis will transform the economy, accelerating the growth of some industries and the decline of others. The Skills Builder Universal Framework will help people to describe the essential skills they have and make it easier for them to transfer to the new economy.”

Dame Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner UK&I, McKinsey & Company, said:

“Businesses should urgently revisit the skills needed to restart and reimagine the economy, support communities, and build back to a new normal, which leaves no one behind. One of the greatest opportunities and responsibilities we have as employers is expanding the support we provide young people and those in vulnerable jobs to develop the skills needed as they face disruptions in their education and employment.”

Developed with social mobility and associated benefits including innovation and productivity in mind, the framework is seen as part of the solution to the problem of widening inequality and a way to recognise and develop skills that were undervalued before COVID-19 but are even more essential now. Employers and educators are urged to adopt the Universal Framework and use the resources at


Notes to Editors


  • Tom Ravenscroft, CEO & Founder, Skills Builder Partnership and author of the report ‘Towards a universal framework for Essential Skills’
  • Sir John Holman, Chair of Essential Skills Taskforce and senior advisor to the Gatsby Foundation
  • Dame Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner UK&I, McKinsey & Company
  • Rebekah Wallis, Director – People & CR, Ricoh UK Ltd
  • Peter Cheese, CEO, CIPD
  • Nicola Inge, Employment & Skills Director, Business in the Community

What is the Essential Skills Taskforce?
The Essential Skills Taskforce is made up of leading organisations from the education and employment sectors that have come together for the first time to agree a Universal Framework for essential skills. Taskforce members are: Business in the Community, Careers & Enterprise Company, CBI, the CIPD, EY Foundation, Gatsby Foundation and the Skills Builder Partnership.

For more information on the Skills Builder Universal Framework,


The Employability Challenge Executive Summary (2009); UKCES; available at