Three Skillsets Every Employee Needs In 2019’s Digital Economy

As technology continues to revolutionize modern work , success and mobility at work will be determined by a new mix of skills. Both the development of new in-demand roles and changes to more traditional roles will drive individuals to seek out knowledge and expertise in new areas for career advancement. In fact, according to edX’s 2018 survey findings, only a fifth of the respondents surveyed consider the education from their college major to be translatable to their current field. A report from Capgemini and LinkedIn on the Digital Talent Gap reinforces this, finding that 47% of Gen-Y and Gen-Z employees believe their skillset is redundant or will be redundant within the next four to five years. This research signals that additional education will be needed for most workers as they progress through their careers.

But what mix of skills will spell success? Burning Glass Technologies , in partnership with the Business-Higher Education Forum, examined 150 million job postings to determine the skills employers are seeking in today’s job market. In their research they found that three key categories of skills, dubbed the New Foundational Skills,” will be essential to job mobility and success as the labor market continues to evolve. Having elements of one or two of these skillsets is desirable, while all three is a winning trifecta.

The 21st Century Foundational Skills

1. Human Skills: Human skills, sometimes referred to as “soft skills,” apply social, creative and critical thinking to work, leading the way to innovation and collaboration. These skills allow teams to work cohesively and are in high demand across the digitally intensive economy. In fact, the jobs that are the most tech-driven are three times more likely than others to demand creativity skills and almost twice as likely to ask for collaboration skills.

2. Business Enabler Skills: These skills allow other skills to be put to work in practical situations. Examples of business enabler skills are project management, business process, communicating data, and digital design. This skillset enables individuals to connect the capabilities of digital technologies to broader business goals and this subject area is one of the top three most popular training subjects on online learning platforms today.

3. Digital Building Block Skills: These skills are the focus of most programs aimed at closing the digital skills gap. Digital skills leverage technology to add value and align with functional domains that are critical to the information economy. Examples of such skills are computational thinking, data science, and machine learning. These skills are critical to many vocations, including many job families that are well outside technical fields. Digital building block skills are especially useful to current or aspiring functional analysts and data-driven decision makers. Industry demand for these skills is already growing. EdX has seen that some of its most popular content maps back to these digital building block skills, such as digital product management, digital leadership, programming, analytics, AI and machine learning.

With the availability of online learning, the power to learn lies in the hands of individuals to take control of their careers and ensure they have a strong mix of the foundational skill areas. To be best prepared for current and future jobs, consider regularly doing the following:

  • Conduct an audit of your skillset. Are you a strong project manager with experience leading teams, but have never done data analysis? Consider taking an analytics course. Are you a programmer without much public speaking experience? Make presenting at a team meeting one of your goals for the quarter. Ask a coworker to help you practice, and record yourself speaking. This is worth real money! An engineer with presentation skills makes 13% more than one without them. Strive to continually assess where you can learn and better position yourself professionally.
  • Market yourself well by ensuring that the skillsets you do have are accurately reflected in your resume and professional profiles. The Burning Glass report examined 56 million resumes and found that even where job seekers possessed some of these foundational skills, they were likely to list very few of them. Always make note of certificates and other credentials earned on resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
  • Stay in the mindset of being a lifelong learner. Education no longer stops after high school or college. Employees should embrace the mindset that learning will be a fluid and continuous process throughout their career. Expect change to be the new constant.

But while it is up to individuals to gain skills, employers need to encourage workers to be learners. Buy-in and support by employers can make all the difference-particularly in showing exactly how new skills will allow workers to get ahead in the company. Not only can this increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention, but it will ultimately also benefit the company as they reap the rewards of an educated and motivated workforce. Many employers, however, still leave employee skills largely up to chance. But there are practical steps employers can take to get better results.

  • Employers have to take charge of their supply chain of talent. By working closely with higher education partners and other providers, such as omnichannel learning platforms, employers can coordinate goals and expectations for online or classroom learning, internships, job skills development, and work-based learning.
  • Employers have to be clear about what skills they need. The strength of the New Foundational Skills approach is it gives employers a framework for understanding what skills are important as they build their business. Organizations need to spell out the skills that will help workers get ahead-and show workers what new career pathways can arise from employees’ time and effort.

As technology’s influence continues to transform today’s labor market, it will become imperative on both a personal and corporate level to develop the New Foundational Skills. The term “foundational” might leave the impression that workers could or should have learned these skills long before entering the workforce. But the more important word is “new.” Employees have to understand that skills-even foundational skills-are constantly changing, and they have to keep up. Employers have to let go of the idea that workers should be delivered to them with every possible skill they will need. If employers want skilled workers, they are going to have to come up with sound plans to find and develop them.

Share how you’re supporting your personal development, or your team’s development, of these crucial skills in the comments section.

This article was written with research from Matt Sigelman, CEO ofBurning Glass Technologies.


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