Required Skills for the Future Work Force

Apollo Research Institute (formerly University of Phoenix Research Institute) has identified 10 work skills that are critical for the future work force:

  1. Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  10. Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

Apollo Research is associating these skills to the six disruptive drivers that they predict will reshape organizations and workers (workers? yeah, even the terminology needs an update from the industrial age. :)). You can see the summary and full report at Future Work Skills 2020 »

This list raises a whole host of interesting questions for Appropriate IT Development Academy.

Let us take the subject of Social Intelligence. It closely tracks with empathy, which is one of the primary areas of focus for the Academy. However, the challenge is, how do we foster empathy and social intelligence in adults? It becomes even harder when we are dealing with college-age young adults to whom the society has been reinforcing the opposite message. What they are getting explicitly and implicitly from the society is that selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-interest are the only virtues they need for future growth.

Then there are those areas which by their very nature become a huge barrier for under-privileged youth. If New Media Literacy is a required skill for the workplace of 2020, then what about those who are left out of this literacy purely on the grounds of access to these tools? If writing content or creating a quick app for an Android phone or iPhone/iPad is a foundational skill for youth to get jobs in high-growth sectors such an IT, then what of those who have no access to a smartphone or the latest gadget?

These are but a sample of the complex challenges that we are grappling with at the Academy on a day to day basis. None of them have easy answers. However, they do beg a multifaceted approach to this thing called “training.” You will hear more as we experiment with various solutions in search for these answers. For now, I leave you with this list and questions of how to incorporate these soft skills into a training program. We would love your ideas and suggestions, so please do post them as comments below.

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