distance learning student working on his employability skills with laptop

5 Employability Skills to Develop This Summer To Achieve Your Dreams

11th July 2023

For many, the summer time is usually a great period of reflection. With the warmer weather drawing in, it’s a great time to begin assessing your goals, hopes and dreams for the future. 

A distance learning degree can offer you a skill-rich stepping stone into the role or industry of your dreams. We understand that finding the right degree to suit your aspirations is incredibly important, and completing a course that you’re passionate about can enable you to break barriers and prepare for a positive change ahead. 

Investing in your education demonstrates to an employer that you are passionate and committed to your chosen direction. In the process, you'll hone your professional skills development, relationship building and team working skills, all of which are invaluable for your future career.

How Can ARU Help You With Your Employability Skills?

Although employability skills are, for the most part, learned in the workplace, did you know that completing a distance learning degree can help you identify skills to develop through distance learning?

All of the following employability skills are built while undertaking a distance learning degree:

  • Communication skills
  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Initiative and Independence

The university has a dedicated careers and employability team who are committed to offering you the best advice. Some examples of the support they provide are personalised appointments, interview preparation, an online employability programme and virtual online job fairs to name just a few opportunities.

Read on to find out more about how you can get ahead this summer to hone the future skills you need for success at ARU.

1. Communication Skills

Communication is important in all areas of life, but they are particularly important in creating a strong and well-oiled team, and as one of the essential soft skills that can also help to form harmonious working relationships in the workplace. 

Whether you’re managing a small team, or working as part of a larger organisation, ensuring that information passes from person to person in a timely and efficient manner can be all the difference between a successful team and an unsuccessful one, and managing how communication is executed can be just as important. 

This is increasingly relevant now in a post-Covid world. Companies are continuing to invest in remote and hybrid working models, with many employees working from home. As a result, you’ll need to get up to speed with communicating virtually with colleagues, and how to manage communication through written means like email, as well as through online video calls.

To enhance your communication skills, you should be able to clearly explain information both verbally and in writing and be clear and concise in what you need, the results you expect to find, and how to navigate any potential problems that may arise.

How Can I Develop My Communication Skills?

If you’re looking to develop your communication skills, one of the most valuable tools you can use is active listening. Active listeners will absorb information from the interaction, and ask follow up questions in order to source extra information. This means they can complete a task, or gain a better understanding of the situation. Active listeners are therefore gifted at displaying empathy, leading to better relationships built with their peers.

To improve your communication skills, you can also practise communicating in a succinct and straightforward manner, with clear questions and instructions. Check understanding with your peers, and be prepared to alter your methods of communication according to others’ needs.

For example, you might want to take into consideration any learning disabilities that are present in your team, and how this may affect their ability to understand or process information. 

On a general scale, you may also find that individuals will process information differently. Some may prefer written communication, others may prefer quickfire verbal updates. Knowing your team, and how they communicate best will help you to play your part in a well-functioning team.

How Does a Distance Learning Degree with ARU Build Communication Skills?

When undertaking a distance learning degree, the art of virtual communication is incredibly important, especially when communicating with supervisors or lecturers. Although distance learning is largely an independent activity, you will still be working alongside your peers in group activities, and you will need to remain in close contact with tutors and lecturers to assess your progress, or ask for assistance.

With an ever-increasing number of companies working based on a remote or hybrid model, you may find that your need to polish your virtual communication skills and qualities lies far beyond just your degree. However, working independently and remotely through your degree will help to prepare you for working on a hybrid or remote basis, if you don’t already.

2. Time Management

Time management is a hugely important skill, no matter where you fall in the hierarchy of your workplace. 

Managing your time with your individual projects allows for a disciplined way of working, and will help you to push through difficult projects with practised ease. Better time management can help you to cope more easily with stress when dealing with a tight deadline, and you will be able to establish a routine that works for you. This is essential when working remotely, or as part of a team.

Working to deadlines also helps you to manage others’ expectations of your time, and will help you to plan your upcoming week accurately.

How Do I Improve My Time Management Skills?

Time management is a skill that is largely improved by practice over time, but to hone these skills at an even faster pace, you can track the time taken to complete tasks. The aim here is not to perform tasks with more haste, but to understand how to perform tasks as efficiently as possible while still maintaining a high quality of work. 

It’s also important to note that if you’re new to a role, or responsibility, your pace and understanding of tasks will improve as time or training progresses. Ensure to ask for feedback to gain an understanding of how you can continue to improve.

You can also complete other tasks like making a to-do list, and utilising a calendar or diary to record meetings and important tasks and events. This will ensure you can stay on top of your organisation.

You may also want to work on understanding your concentration span, and any obstacles to your focus. 

For example, if you’re easily distracted by incoming notifications on your phone or other devices, ensure to switch to “do not disturb” mode. You can also turn off notifications during working hours for all apps and programmes that don’t require your attention. This will help you to focus more on the task at hand and prevent unnecessary procrastination.

How Does a Distance Learning Degree with ARU Build Time Management Skills?

As with any learning programme, you will need to meet strict deadlines for assignments, and be punctual in learning material for each module. By managing your time and keeping on top of your task list, this will prepare you for completing tasks to a deadline in your industry of choice.

3. Teamwork

As the saying goes, there’s no ‘I’ in team, and that is very true. To build a successful career in whichever industry you’re dreaming of, you’ll need to be able to work successfully as a team player.

One of the strongest foundations of successful teamwork is to build a team with mutual trust and respect. To achieve this, you will need to pull elements from other strengths like interpersonal skills, and demonstrate skills of empathy and fast decision making in times of adversity or sudden change, as well as be able to adapt to these circumstances.

Occasionally, you may be confronted with a conflict with another team member, which occurs naturally in most workplaces. Although conflict can be uncomfortable, it presents an essential lesson in practising your resolution skills, and can help you build stronger relationships with colleagues in the long run.

How Do I Improve My Teamwork Skills?

Improving teamwork skills usually takes time, especially when you’re building a foundation of trust between colleagues. 

One of the most important aspects of teamwork is to support your fellow colleagues as much as possible. Some examples of this might include covering sick leave, volunteering for a task that another colleague may struggle with, assisting with heavy workloads, and ensuring that you conduct yourself with respect and dignity around others. 

How Does a Distance Learning Degree from ARU Improve My Teamwork Skills?

While learning remotely, some of your modules may require group work. However, team work can also be utilised in instances such as understanding a module or the task at hand. For example, you might be asked by a peer to help them figure out a task, or in turn, ask them for help yourself. 

Additionally, ARU’s Career Centre can provide you with essential tools and resources to help you further your skills in your chosen role, as well as an online Employability Programme.

4. Problem Solving

Whichever role you work in, it’s difficult to avoid the need for problem solving on a day-to-day basis. 

Developing stellar problem solving skills will strengthen your self-confidence, allowing you to make progressively difficult decisions without breaking a sweat. 

If you’re looking to excel in a management position, developing problem solving skills will help you to manage testing situations with ease and stay calm under pressure.

How Do I Improve My Problem Solving Skills?

Much of the experience gained in problem solving comes from encountering difficult situations over time and learning from each experience or mistake. However, there are a few tips you can take note of that will help you cope with making difficult decisions.

When you’re faced with a difficult decision, take time to assess the problem, and the root cause. Weigh up the options for your response, and make logical decisions based on cause and effect. This will help you to keep your head clear and free from spontaneous emotionally driven decisions. 

It’s also important to assess how successful your decision-making process was. If you can, glean some feedback from your managers or other superiors. This will be invaluable to helping you tackle the same, or similar situation next time. 

How Does a Distance Learning Degree with ARU Improve My Problem Solving Skills?

Although businesses tend to have hierarchical structures in order to divide responsibility amongst the most experienced employees, it’s important for all colleagues to act with an appropriate degree of initiative and independent thought.

Not only does independence and initiative encourage growth, but it also encourages creativity and benefits the business by introducing fresh eyes and new ideas to policies and procedures. 

5. Initiative and Independence

A large part of distance learning involves independent work, and much of that experience will involve problem solving independently by learning content, or writing assignments.

You may have difficulty understanding some of the course content, and your primary focus will be to attempt to understand it alone before reaching out to your peers or tutor, although support is always readily available when you need it. Practising solving problems will allow you to become familiar with stress management, and the best ways for you to tackle tasks efficiently and independently.

How Do I Improve My Initiative and Independence Skills?

Working with initiative and independence is built over time, with practice and confidence. To begin, you may want to work on your self-confidence. According to a study by Indeed, 99% of employees claim that self-confidence is critical to a successful job search.

Improving your self-confidence will help you take calculated risks, work on management experience, and continually assess your progress and performance.

How Does a Distance Learning Degree with ARU Improve My Initiative and Independence Skills?

While working towards completing your degree, you will have complete autonomy over how you organise your time, and complete your work. This level of independence will encourage you to work on making confident decisions about the quality of your work, and how you tackle the structure of your day.

Do you want to start your journey with ARU today? Apply now for a range of courses that will help you master employability skills.

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