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Skill - Jul 13, 2016

The Duke of Ed's Top Ten Guide to skills you can learn today

The purpose of The Duke of Ed’s skills section is to “explore your potential,” by discovering new abilities and interests that ignite your passion. If you’re sitting here thinking “but I’m not good at anything,” we are here to tell you how wrong you are. That’s right – we said it! You’re wrong! Everyone is good at something. Sometimes, it takes trying new things to discover what we don’t like, before the possibilities of what we do like begin to emerge. To get you started, here is a list of ten skills you can learn to push you further along your journey to the Award.

1. Programming

If Pokémon Go has taught us anything, it’s that we are officially living in a new digital age of technology. As our reliance on technology in all aspects of life continues to increase, it is important that you are able to understand and control said tech, so that you can become an active part of the huge digital shift we are currently undergoing. According to the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, four out of ten Canadian jobs will be lost to technology. That’s right – robots are taking over the world! So why not learn how to control said robots? To get you started, check out this awesome site that lets you learn and practice HTML5, JavaScript, PHP and more. Remember though – always use your amazing new tech skills for good!

2. Adobe Creative Suite & Microsoft Office

Continuing with the theme of computers, Adobe Creative Suite & Microsoft Office are must haves on every resume. You may be used typing up essays on Word, but how often do you use Excel to help you with your math homework? It’s totally a thing! Many companies now rely on Adobe programs to create engaging web layouts and graphic designs. If you’re the creative type, programs like Illustrator can push your art from amateur looking to polished professional. Not only that, these programs help to make traditional presentations more interactive so you can impress your friends and teachers. You can spend hours practicing your skills on Adobes how-to channel.

3. Finances

Money is an unavoidable necessity of our daily life, and unfortunately, the Canadian educational system lags behind when it comes to teaching financial literacy to youth. As such, young people today lack the fundamental financial skills they need to succeed in life, and are growing into young adults buried in debt, with no savings. In Canada, we have the highest house-hold debt of any G7 Nation. According to the Financial Post, for every $100 of disposable income, households have debt obligations of $171. Want to spend your golden years in the sunny-state, or on a retiree cruise? Think you’ll spend your 70s swinging a golf club in your retirement khakis? Better start saving now. Before you become bogged down with student loans, cell-phone plans and credit cards take time to learn how to budget. Putting away as little as $50 a month can do wonders for your savings account. Your future self will thank you when you aren’t breaking into a cold sweat each time you pay a bill. Here are some great tips from to get a simple budget started.

4. Car Maintenance

So you parents are finally letting you take their car out for a spin – maybe they are only letting you take a trip or two to the grocery store and back, but learning proper car maintenance will not only impress them, it will serve to boost your safety and confidence while driving. A well maintained car runs better, and a regular oil change will lower your car maintenance cost. A car that runs better is also more fuel-efficient. You’ll want to keep that in mind for when your parents inevitably hit you up for gas money. Most importantly, brushing up on your car knowledge will help you when you decide to go out and get your first car. A well maintained car extends its lifespan and improves your selling value, so you get a better return on your investment. Your budget will thank you! Here’s a great resource to get your started on your car care journey.

5. Self Defense

Normally, we don’t encourage violence, but in this case, we say – get out there and kick some butt! Learning self-defence is not only good for your safety, teaching you how to defend yourself, it is also a great way to develop self-discipline. Self-defense focuses on learning how to take advantage of time and space, and you must be motivated and dedicated to practicing and showing up to classes on a regular basis. The fact that it is good for exercise and anger management is an added bonus. Muscle toning never looked so excitingly dangerous!

6. Cooking

Everybody poops, and everybody eats. These are the facts of life. So it seems like a no brainer that everybody cooks. Not so though. Kids these days. They won’t get off our lawn, and they won’t get into the kitchen to even scramble their poor mother an egg! Many Canadian youth today are struggling with obesity, and it all boils down to what we are putting into our bodies. When you cook your own meal, you know what ingredients you are putting into it, and fresh always tastes better! Fight those freshman fifteen when you head off to college by making your own lunches and dinners. Not only will you save money, but you can easily impress your date by cooking them something other than ramen noodles. Reddit has a great thread for beginner cooks, where you can find recipes and ask exciting questions. (How do I boil and egg?) Don’t forget to consult Canada’s food guide to make sure you are getting all your necessary greens!

7. First Aid

Learning first aid can literally be the difference between life and death. It may seem dramatic, but you truly never know when a person will suffer a heart attack, dislocate a shoulder or hit their head. While we are lucky to live in a country with skilled emergency response teams, you may have to hop into action while you wait for an ambulance to arrive. Instead of panicking and/or tearing up, inform yourself. It is much easier to perform a practiced task, then to have to come up with an arm sling on the spot. Here are some first aid tips and resources that you can peruse from the Canadian Red Cross.

8. Public Speaking

Words are powerful. More powerful still – carefully crafted and well-spoken words. Practicing your public speaking not only boots your confidence but it helps you to speak your mind in a conducive way that will allow you be heard. People who can communicate are always wanted in any profession, and being able to get your point across effectively will help you succeed in all avenues of life. Want to convince your folks to let you go to that concert all your friends are going to be at? Prepare a speeches that expresses your goal point by point, and then practice it in front of the mirror. Your vocabulary will improve exponentially, and you will notice that people are more inclined to take your point when you approach them in a calm, and logical manner. Toast masters is a fun organization that can help you develop this skill. Find your local chapter here.

9. Knitting

Knitting. The official pass time of Grandmas everywhere. It’s more than a hilarious way to embarrass your significant other with an ill-fitting Christmas sweater that they are now obligated to wear in your presence. Like meditation, knitting is relaxing, reduces stress and improves motor functions exponentially. As well, knitting produces tangible products that build your self-esteem. Looking to embrace your Canadian side with a new toque? Channel your creativity and knit something unique to you. And why stop there? You can share your unique treasures through organizations like Project Linus, a group that provides blankets full of hugs to children going through a crisis in their lives.

10. Instruments

You’ll often hear people say that music is the language of the soul. Humans have been engaging in song for as long as we’ve existed, but it takes a special type of person with patience and perseverance to focus on learning each and every note of an instrument. Like public speaking, learning to play an instrument forces you to keep your composure in front of people as you wow your audience. Don’t learn just to impress others though – learning to play an instrument helps with your memory, and can make you an expert in non-verbal communication. Most importantly, learning an instrument is one of the best ways to live in the moment, as you focus on your piece. And for those of you inevitably wondering – no – learning to play the spoons does not count!

Well there you have it! Ten exciting new skills that you can begin to master today. Remember – don’t let fear stop you from learning, and building new experiences. As the wise author Susan Jeffers said: “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.”


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