Life Skills for Students: Building a Foundation for Employability and Beyond

 Georgia Read , Marketing Executive at Bodyswaps
December 22nd 2023

What are life skills?

The World Health Organisation defines life skills as the abilities that enable people to effectively tackle the demands and challenges of everyday life. Life skills encompasses a whole variety of soft skills, but UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO list the ten core life skills as:

  1. Problem solving
  2. Critical thinking 
  3. Effective communication skills
  4. Decision-making
  5. Creative thinking
  6. Interpersonal relationship skills
  7. Self-awareness building skills
  8. Empathy
  9. Coping with stress
  10. Coping with emotions

Life Skills for Students Building a Foundation for Employability and Beyond


Why are they important for students to learn?

Life skills can be classed under the soft skills umbrella, and 91% of CEOs across the globe say they need to improve their organisations’ soft skills to sit alongside digital skills. So, equipping students with those essential life skills enhances their job-readiness, preparing them for the workplace.

But life skills also help young people to build self-confidence, develop a voice they are confident in using, and develop expertise in asserting their own rights.

Life skills and employability

Proficiency in life skills can help make the workplace more harmonious, collaborative and empathetic. And those with strong life skills have a greater awareness of themselves and others, making them good managers and leaders.

It’s no surprise then, that emotional intelligence (EQ), which can be developed through the life skills mentioned above (emotion and stress management, for example), will be the second most sought after skills by employers, according to the World Economic Forum. And a CareerBuilder survey showed that 71% of employers value EQ over IQ.


“[Universities] must provide us with people with the ability to continually learn, to think critically and theoretically, to be reflective and reflexive, to innovate and break the status quo, and to navigate in the unstable waters of the global economy."
David Docherty
Ex-chief executive of the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE)


While a rather declarative statement, it does highlight the overall point of an emphasis on life skills in higher and further education. The ‘hard skills’ a degree or course can give students in their chosen career paths are valuable, absolutely, but the transferable life skills that universities and colleges are also in a position to teach are invaluable for professional lives and beyond, enhancing students’ flexibility and adaptability in an uncertain and turbulent job market.

How to teach life skills for students

Life skills are often developed through a combination of both learning and real life experiences.

Teaching life skills in both further and higher education should encompass a multifaceted approach combining theory, practice, and application. Below are just five suggestions on where to start:

  1. Active learning techniques: this can be in the form of group discussions and debates or problem- and scenario-based learning - essentially any form of learning that encourages students to actively engage with class material. This not only leads to better retention of material but can also help foster critical thinking and communication skills.
  2. Reflective practice: reflective exercises like journals, self-assessments, and portfolios help contribute to self-awareness, self-reflection skills and a focus on personal growth.
  3. Mentoring programmes: mentoring peers or younger students can help develop communication and problem solving skills and develop empathy.
  4. Emotional intelligence workshops: offering workshops centred specifically around skills like stress management, emotional regulation, and empathy-building is a direct way of helping students to build these interpersonal skills. There are a variety of companies offering workshops for all age groups.
  5. Experiential learning: providing the opportunity for students to get hands-on experience and practical application through simulations and role-plays enables students to learn critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making skills and unlock how to apply them in real-world situations.

Tools to complement these strategies:

Learning management systems (LMS) like Moodle and Blackboard include features that allow educators to create interactive content, facilitate online discussions, and manage assignments for their students. LMS are used widely throughout further and higher education to foster active learning strategies, but there may be some features it has you’ve not tried out yet, so why not take another look?

To support the growth of emotion and stress management skills - either in tandem with workshops or on their own - emotional wellness apps like Headspace are an interactive and engaging way to get students invested in their own wellbeing. Many are hidden behind paywalls, however, which can be a hurdle for scalability.

For complementing mentoring strategies or other peer-to-peer engagement for communication skills, feedback tools like Turnitin’s PeerMark make peer assessment easier than ever. And this sort of learning can encourage the development of critical thinking skills and communication/teamwork skills.

Experiential learning can range from in-person, hands-on learning through to immersive learning, wherein the experience is partly or wholly virtual. Immersive learning uses XR, AR, VR or some combination of them to replicate real scenarios in a virtual space. By imitating the situation virtually, the learner can experience various interactions, conversations, or tasks in a way that feels real, without the various anxieties that can come from learning life skills on the go in real life. VR allows for “learning by doing” - which is proven to help students retain more information in comparison to reading - while also providing a psychologically safe space.

Immersive learning like Bodyswaps combines theory, practice and application in real-world scenarios, allowing students to take their soft skills to the next level before applying them in life.

Life skills for students with Bodyswaps

Bodyswaps has a range of immersive learning modules, covering a variety of soft skills, which contribute to the development of key life skills such as effective communication, decision-making, creative thinking, interpersonal relationship building, self-awareness, empathy, and coping with stress and emotions.

Our research, with 1,000 students across the globe using VR, showed that a single session of our Job Interview Simulator improved learners’ readiness and confidence: 80% of students report being more self-aware of ways to improve their skills, 78% feel more confident to apply those skills and 86% would recommend the experience to peers.

Implement Bodyswaps today and boost life skills for your students. Download more information on our Discovery Package to get started.



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