Commercial skills and awareness are often considered essential by employers but are not always a measurable skill.

Commercial awareness is classed as the ability to develop an understanding of what makes organisations successful. This can include the process of buying or selling products or the supply of services to a specific market.

How can you teach commercial skills?

It is vital for all members of an organisation, from the interns to the CEOs, to develop a strong skill set, to promote commercial awareness within every process. Due to the increasing competition and saturated markets, commercial skills are now more valuable than ever to a business.

Commercial skills can be developed through a number of routes, from every day learning to formal training materials.

However, it is recommended that anyone looking to improve their commercial awareness should aim to read the news and business pages regularly. General interest and knowledge of the economy can offer a good grounding when it comes to understanding the financial state of the world.

Learning about stocks and shares, particularly those of your company and your competitors can offer an insight into the business is considered valuable.

Identifying any significant peaks and troughs in the value of stocks, aligned with recent activity and the state of the economy, will help to build commercial skills and understand the business performance in the market.

Separating sector issues from company issues can allow you to identify problems that might be halting your business from further success, or if a problem is significantly stifling a whole industry. This information can be used to become more commercially competitive and benefit business growth.

Commercial skills within management development

It is critical for managers to develop their commercials awareness, in order to recognise strengths and weaknesses within teams and the business. Strong commercial acumen within management can be the difference between failure and success, in the current business climate.

Management development programmes should look to incorporate key commercial skills, such as sales, customer service and relationship management and negotiation tactics.

Learning and management development often does not incorporate commercial skills training in a large enough capacity, essentially creating a skill gap within the workforce.

Disregarding commercial skills training can neglect an area of development that can bring about a significant commercial advantage above competitors.

Through setting objectives that require management to improve their commercial skills, particularly within their teams, they are more likely to strive to meet these objectives.

This could be as simple as restructuring a team or retraining individuals to ensure that strengths are utilised for commercial success and weaknesses are used as a basis for learning and improving.

The commercial skills gap

The term skills gap has been used more and more frequently throughout the business world recently, this refers to areas of the UK talent pool that are lacking in prospective candidates possessing a particular set of skills.

Commercial awareness is no exception, with many graduates leaving education with little to no understanding of the market, alongside long term workers failing to progress any further due to a knowledge gap.

It is important for all employees to continuously immerse themselves in news and to reassure their employers that they have a strong commercial understanding of the business.