Esports: Five winning skills for players to take to the workplace

Esports: Five winning skills for players to take to the workplace image

How to prepare today’s learners for the jobs of the future is as big a challenge for schools and colleges as it has ever been. According to the World Economic Forum “Future of Jobs Report 2023 ”, we can expect to see more job roles created in technology, digitalisation and sustainability, reflecting the continuing pace of development in these areas in society.

And according to a report published recently by Dell Technologies and the Institute for The Future (IFTF), as much as 85% of jobs that exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

With so many new roles and tasks arising all the time, it is possible to predict a growing skills gap with young people leaving education with technical skills that made sense when they started studying…but are already obsolete by the time they reach the workplace.

In addition to the jobs themselves changing greatly, the very nature of employment itself is continually changing: reduced job security as a result of the growth of the gig economy and the rise of remote working making a far more global talent pool for greater competition.

So, where does that leave those in education right now?

In the face of such uncertainty in the future workplace, one of the easiest ways young people can prepare is by developing a firm foundation of transferrable and adaptable skills; those skills that have often been called “soft” (groan) but will actually be essential in any type of employment they go into. These are the skills that will help them thrive in a variety of different roles amidst a rapidly changing employment landscape, regardless of the specific career path that emerges.

Two esports students work together using a tablet device.

However, we often speak about “transferable skills” without ever really nailing down what these are. But with over 40 years of experience teaching these very skills, we have narrowed it down to five core ones that cut across subjects and infiltrate every area of working life:

  1. Communication: Being able to communicate is expected across further education and in any form of employment. But that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it well…Young people have so many ideas about how they want to shape the world when it comes to climate, politics, equal rights, and in order to be the change they want to see, being able to convey their message and build strong relationships to see that work through is a skill that everyone can – and should – learn.
  2. Problem solving: Throughout education, students are challenged to overcome problems in a wide range of tasks and activities (both inside and outside the classroom). Sometimes it can be difficult to see how some of these relate to real-world situations – has anyone ever used Pythagoras’s theory since leaving school? However, teaching students how to recognise a problem and work out the solution with the tools available is the real goal rather than the specific situation or task. This becomes more significant as learners progress through their education journey as the problems themselves become more complex.
  3. Self-belief: Young people often have passionate views on big topics such as climate change or social justice, but learning to see multiple sides of the same argument can be hugely important in working out how and where to make their mark. Building their self-belief to give them the confidence and conviction in their values whilst being able to positively respond to those of other people is key.
  4. Teamwork: Ever since the COVID pandemic, we have all adapted to working remotely and becoming more isolated. This is even more significant for young people, who have lost so much benefit from working together at school and in extra-curricular environments. Ensuring the ability to share ideas and contribute effectively in a group, especially in an online environment, is more important than ever in this hybrid working world.
  5. Self-management and resilience: Education can be a stressful experience (everyone has at least one embarrassing school story!), so learning how to handle setbacks and recognise when to reach out for support is essential for young people – and something that will help them throughout their lives.

However, when we mention esports, these skills may not be the first ones we think of. But they are as intrinsic to this field of interest as any other. Here’s why:

  1. Communication: Shouting at teammates through your headset might only get you so far (and probably won’t make you many friends). But explaining your plans, sharing your insights, and coordinating your actions with your team will. A rising tide raises all boats and when teammates communicate well with each other, the team is bound to do better in their chosen game as a whole.
  2. Problem solving: There can be a lot going on during online action, especially in complex games like real-time strategy platforms such as StarCraft II. To really gain an advantage here, the key is to take control of the map, with players often sending scouting units to gather information about their opponent’s base and movements. Thinking two or three steps ahead and foreseeing potential problems is hugely important when choosing match-winning tactics. Now imagine this skill in the workplace!
  3. Self-belief: Having the self-awareness to know your strengths and weaknesses across the different games you play means you ask more experienced players for guidance and tips when you need it, and – ultimately – become a better player yourself. If we could all have this courage to admit where we need to strengthen our skills, imagine the difference we could create in our workplaces.
  4. Teamwork: Working as a team is an essential part of successful strategies in esports, especially in FPS platforms like Counter-Strike. Using voice chat or in-game messages, players are constantly updating teammates on enemy positions, the state of the game or their own movements. Being in the right place to provide cover and having a clear understanding of your role within the team – are you a sniper or a fragger? – is crucial.
  5. Self-management and resilience: At the top of the esports world, the stakes are massive and pressure is real. Championship winners can walk away with millions of dollars in titles such as League of Legends or DOTA. Intense competition, long hours of play and unexpected setbacks – such as sudden changes in momentum or minor lapses in concentration – mean it’s important to stay focused at all times without succumbing to stress. This takes time and practice, and the most successful players have resilience in spades.

Transferable skills are at the heart of esports and they can teach us much about how to deal with common challenges (and opportunities) found in the workplace. In fact, we could all learn much from the young people who do them so well. Let’s not forget – we’re all learning all the time (every day is a school day). It’s a brave new world and none of us can predict what the workplace landscape will be like tomorrow; let’s see where our esports leaders can take us.

To find out more about our esports leadership programme and how it can help young people develop essential transferrable skills that will benefit them in a challenging and ever-changing future, visit our Esports Leadership page and support your learners in their area of interest today.