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Skills Envy Sweeps the Nation


Forget beauty or money - the real thing we envy in others is their skills, according to a poll, commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

More than a third of people in the poll confessed to envying the skills and abilities of others, whereas only 4% felt jealous of other people's beauty.

The survey marked the launch of a new campaign - Our future. It's in our hands - aimed at inspiring people and business to improve their skill levels and ultimately support the target set by Lord Leitch in his review of skills for the UK to become a world leader in all levels of skills by 2020.

Professor Raj Persaud, Consultant Psychiatrist at The Maudsley Hospital, said that envy can be a positive emotion. “If you are working with a colleague who seems more skilled than you, or you are playing sport against someone who seems more able, then feelings of frustration and envy are natural.”

He added: “This arises out of a process some psychologists refer to as social comparison. 'Upwardly directed' social comparison is where you compare yourself with those better than you. This can lead to feeling low about your own position in life - but only if you view your situation as not changeable by yourself. Our attitude to skills and the acquisition of them is vital - if you are inspired to raise your game by comparison with role models, then improving your own skills is a psychologically healthy response to this predicament.”

Many of those polled in the survey had strong ambitions for the future. Almost two in ten wanted to be an entrepreneur, while skilled professions scored well, with 14% of people aspiring to become a nurse or doctor and 10% to be a teacher.

Many respondents also saw skills as playing an integral part in feeling in control of their lives:

  • 90% of respondents believe they have the ability to control their future using current skills or by learning new ones.

  • 47% people felt that access to training to improve their skills would help them feel more in control of their lives.

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