Non-Cognitive Skills, What?
Here’s something we can all agree on. Human intellectual potential is a combination of Hard and Soft Skills.
Soft skills – People skills, life skills, interpersonal skills or transferable skills. Whatever you label them as, unfortunately, these skills don’t have the same importance that hard skills like technical and job-oriented skills do in the marketplace.
The problem with this approach of soft skills not being taught actively in schools is that our children will go on to become adults who can’t put themselves in others’ shoes, who can’t manage their time and attention well, who are terrible team players, who don’t have decent cultural competencies, who can’t stand up for what’s right in the workplace, and who burn out fast without the basic understanding of coping mechanisms.
Workplace culture around the world has changed overnight thanks to COVID-19. We’ve been digitizing the relationship with companies and clients for many years now, and in 2020, we have also digitized the relationship between employer and employee.
In such a landscape, how can we prepare our children to be future employees and entrepreneurs who can chase their vision of a better world with confidence?
What Does The Marketplace Need?
Let’s face it. Starting to wonder about what the future holds is not something a 7-year-old needs to do. But here’s what educators and parents need to understand. 65% of current grade school children in the US will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills & Society for Human Resource Management identifies the top four critical skill that the 21st Century Workforce needs.
* Teamwork / Collaboration
* Critical Thinking / Problem Solving
In addition to these, transforming a grade school child into a good global citizen will require us to help them learn skills like Adaptability, Agility, Analyzing and using their Imagination without fear of judgement.
College Learning through Work-Integrated Models:
Gone are the days when you graduate from one major in college and stick with using those skills repetitively for the rest of your life. Most colleges are quickly moving towards work-integrated models of learning. Work based internships, that merge the platforms of training and testing, are becoming commonplace.
With the increasing speed of the digital evolution of technology at work, every few months, employers are having to train employees in new on-job skills. For years now, many employees, while working full time, have been getting college and business degrees online.
But, employers can no longer hire graduates and expect their employees to not upskill constantly while on the job. This is why we’re seeing a merger of companies taking an active interest in engaging early with their potential workforce at high school and college campuses. Colleges along with company partnerships are designing courses and content that can segway into potential job and career tracks. They’re even calling it the “Go Pro Early” model of learning.
Staying Relevant In A Volatile Landscape:
Without personal accountability and a deep-rooted interest in human connections, our work cannot drive the positive and global impact we intend for it to have. Without the right intentions and ethics, even the best tools in our hands can become weapons of mass destruction.
In this digital age of information overload, there is a greater need to teach our kids how to process information and how to make sense of it rather than giving them more information via our curriculum.
Knowledge is becoming cheaper and less important. In the near future, we will not be hired for what we know, but for our ability to harvest new ideas and solutions in ever changing technological landscapes. Embrace change, stay relevant.
Reskilling And Upskilling:
If COVID-19 has taught anything about what the demands of a pandemic on the workplace would be, it is that we need people with a great attitude, cognitive flexibility – the ability to handle different people differently, and an undying spirit of conscientiousness.
Increasingly, we’re dealing with things that our forefathers have never encountered ever before. We’re upskilling ourselves every few years to keep up with the technology we’re creating, changing our own behaviors because algorithms are deciding our feelings for us, computing on clouds, learning machine language, empowering robots with intelligence, and dealing with chat bots and block chain – technology which we don’t fully understand and comprehend the consequences of.
As workplaces are demanding more and more of these skills, there’s a sense of growing awareness among employees of the need for becoming lifelong learners and adopt a growth mindset.
Also, in the place of traditional bureaucratic career growth, people are moving to shorter job tenures and smaller contractual obligations so they can focus on building skills portfolios.
The Era of the Social Enterprise:
People these days don’t want to only eke out a living like how they had to in the midst of war during the Industrial Revolution. We don’t want to just elevate their standard of living like with the latest Technology and Information revolution.
Socially conscious enterprises – the ones that want to do the most social good, that have popped up in the past few years, are making us think of our own personal impact on the world. Most of us are now seeking meaning in “Why we do” in the “What we do” of our daily lives. We seek reward in improving the quality of our life and not just our standard of living. This is how the Future of our Work is going to look like.
Creativity And Adaptability As Tools:
As work continues to get more automated, only our unique value proposition as humans will set us apart from machines. As such, qualities like our unlimited imagination, our creativity and our drive to make a difference will become even more invaluable.
If we must continue our work towards using Technology as a tool to make our life convenient and efficient and not become a puppet in its hands, we must learn to navigate the digital age without forgetting our core strengths.
In the end, our world is a product of our imagination and vision and not the exponential output of the machines we’re building. Only humans can communicate effectively with others, manage, delegate and resolve differences. Only we can learn on the job, be emotionally flexible towards experiences and adopt positive role models. In the end, it’s our understanding of what gives us humans a competitive edge over machines.
While schools drive academic accomplishments, lets also teach our 21st Century children essential life skills. So, they can take on any job with the top 3 skills colleges and employers want: Perseverance, Creativity and Adaptability, and with emotional flexibility and self confidence that they need.