Lists of the skills employers want abound. Some skills can be built through employee development and training, online or in-person in a hosted Learning Management System or online training software. Some lists are long, some are short, yet year after year, the findings remain remarkably the same from list to list. The emphasis may vary from industry to industry, but the five skills outlined below appear again and again. In sum, they suggest that the workplace has moved away from individual expertise and towards the collaborative creations of teams of diverse individuals.
1 – Interpersonal and Communication Skills – The ability to share ideas in a variety of formats, work as part of team and understand visual, written and numerical information is essential for success in the workplaces of the 21st century. So much of the work, whether establishing new uses for existing products or developing innovative approaches to the industry is now done as part of a team, making teamwork and communication indispensable for an organization’s success.
2 – Technology and Computer Literacy – Employees today need more than knowledge of Word and Excel. Along with having advanced expertise in office suites, they should be able to use database, statistical and basic web design software. This doesn’t mean they need to be experts in these areas from the get go, but that a firm basis is necessary for employees to adapt to new work circumstances as they arise. As offices and the work interactions that occur within them increasingly happen in digital environments, skills in technology and computer literacy will become more and more pressing.
3 – Critical Thinking and Analysis – Creating new products or new ways of doing things ultimately relies upon using critical thinking and analysis. The ability to assimilate disassemble and reconfigure large amounts of information is essential for success in the global economy. It is the cornerstone of innovation, especially when applied to technology.
4 – Management and Leadership – Employees in contemporary organizations also need to demonstrate the ability to step up when the time is right. This isn’t necessarily a matter of taking the reigns as in the past, but collaborating and leading by example. Leadership and management of this variety means acting as the first among equals, rather than “the boss”. It means spurring the people around you on to new heights and helping them perform better.
5 – Multicultural Sensitivity and Inclusiveness – Workplaces today are more diverse than ever. Employees who are incapable of respecting and supporting diversity will find it difficult to effectively communicate with and support fellow collaborators. This means understanding professional and interpersonal boundaries and learning how to tap into the skills and interests of others to enhance workflow.
Succeeding in the global economy means effectively mobilizing the right skills. To do that, you need to find the right employees. By targeting job advertisements to highlight these skill-sets, organizations are likely to find the right people and the right skills.