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Skills for Today's Changing Workplace

Updated on February 2, 2018
aesta1 profile image

Mary is an organizational development specialist and writes about today's changing workplace.

Skills Today's Job Market Looks For

Think you've got the skills for today's workplace? Computer ready...a new degree...accounting skills...ready to engineer the world's biggest bridge? Well, think again. There are thousands of new Grads each year with the same tech skills and robots are coming with the the skills in demand in today's workplace and a huge capacity to learn new skills. What will set you apart?

Recent surveys conducted in a wide range of developing and well developed countries underline the primary concern of more than 80 percent of employers: finding workers with good work ethics and appropriate social behaviours.

What does "appropriate" mean? A good attitude, decent appearance, a team orientation and a bit of a perky personality. Skills is just one part of the package and for many employers, not even number 1!

The Constantly Changing Workplace

Today's Constantly Reinventing Workplaces

Today's workplaces are varied as there are interests. They keep changing and their skills demands keep reinventing as well. When before jobs with low skills make you middle class in Western societies, now many jobs are done by robots. The low skilled jobs hardly pay at all as many temps take it.

The good paying jobs often require advanced skills. Many of these jobs are taken by consultants. Employees seem to be the odd word now in the business world. Welcome to the Uber Economy. Young grads now have gigs, 2 or 5 of these at the same time, and to the consternation of their parents who are used to regular permanent jobs, they seem to fit in happily.

When you have advanced skills, you will even be more in demand because most companies now are happy to have temps for jobs that are specialized and focused. Our on-demand corporations rely on freelance consultants for many advanced skills.

Understanding this new work place well is quite a challenge. I just recently read that with ever growing data, the demand for data analysis will definitely increase. Content managers seem to be a position many advertise for now. Rocket engineers. Data analysts. Hone your skills in these new job demands and don't stop until you get in the other half of the income divide. Remember, it keeps recreating itself. Recreate yourself, too.

Employers Search the Work for Employees

Changing Workplace
Changing Workplace | Source

Employers' Dissatisfaction at New Graduates

Business and industry representatives in both developed and developing countries have expressed considerable dissatisfaction with the general level of preparedness of entry-level employees.

Interviews with job applicants support this finding. More than half of the graduates leave school without the knowledge or foundation required to find and hold a good job. This does not refer to technical or specific jobs skills but to employability skills such as attitudes, self discipline and a commitment to learning. Most teachers or professors have never worked outside of the whinging world of the College and really know sweet diddley about the real world of work.

While most employers expect to train new employees in company-specific procedures and to acquaint them with the behavioural norms, standards, and expectations in their company (the Brand) as well as job-specific technical skills required, they are very clear that the schools and family should take most of the responsibility for equipping young people with general employability skills.

How do you assess your skills for today's workplace? - Do you have the skills for it?

On a scale of 1-5, one the lowest and 5 the highest, how would you rate your skills for today's workplace?

See results

Skills Workplaces Need

Specific Skills the Workplace Needs
Specific Skills the Workplace Needs | Source

Find Out What Skills are in Demand in the New Workplace

Get serious in finding out what skills are in demand in the new workplace. This is equally important for those who are searching for jobs and for those already in jobs. Nothing is secure right now. Change is the one thing you need to manage. Keep learning new skills and updating what you have.

What Employers See as Valuable

The attitudes and behaviours (other than technical competence) that employers see as valuable in the actual work place are often referred to as employability skills. These employability skills include reading, basic arithmetic and other basic skills like problem solving, decision making, and other higher-order thinking skills.

Also, dependability, a positive attitude, cooperativeness or ability to work in teams, and other communication and human skills that make you a contributor to the company and not a slouching doofus hidden in a corner when clients come.

Employability Skills are not job specific. They are skills which cut horizontally across all employment sectors and vertically across all jobs from entry level to chief executive officer. Although the critical employability skills identified by employers vary considerably in the way they are organized, there is a great deal of agreement among the skills and traits identified. For many employers, the look for adaptability in new recruits, those able to change based on the demands of the work.

It looks like specific occupational skills are less crucial for entry-level employment than high level of literacy, responsible attitudes toward work, the ability to communicate well, and the ability to continue to learn and adapt. Learning from errors and mistakes. This is often not taught in schools where there are right and wrong answers, not a search for what fits given the challenge or the circumstance.

Studies in many countries suggest that employers place greatest importance on employee attitudes, basic skills over job-specific skills, and for workers to have an understanding of the work environment and its demand for flexibility.

What Will Future Jobs Look Like

Demands of Today's Workplace on New Entrants

Today's workplace demand that entry-level workers be able to operate independently, using problem-solving and decision-making skills. The need for worker collaboration and teamwork requires employees to be creative, flexible, and possess good interpersonal and managerial skills.

The reference to interpersonal skills points to yet another reason for the changes in the employability skill needs of today's workplace: the increasingly multicultural nature of the workforce.

When you visit a resort in Maldives or a hotel in Cambodia or trek in the Himalayas, or join a bank in Hong Kong, you not only meet tourists from everywhere, but your co-workers will be from around the globe Major construction projects may involve workers from many countries and cultures. Corporations have also changed colors. Good interpersonal skills will be more in demand the more multicultural the workforce becomes.

A final reason for the increased interest in equipping young people with basic, higher-order, and affective skills is the growing awareness of what happens when great numbers of people lack these qualifications. The Tower of Babel was not just a language issue.

Today's Workplace

Today's Workplace
Today's Workplace | Source

How do you prepare students for employment in today's workplace?

There is a great need for preparing young people with good work habits. Students need to be taught such things as honesty, punctuality, regular attendance, productivity, and conscientiousness. Mom and Dad...and Grandpa and Grandma...are you listening? Allow your kids to fail. Don't blame them for failures but analyze these failures as opportunities for them to learn.

Moreover, most workplaces require different kinds of tasks, approaches, and employees. If young people are not allowed to tinker, tweak, work on jobs, they get into the workplace thinking the work will be given to them.

Work is problem-oriented, flexible, and organized in teams; labor is not a cost but an investment. Think of the Island teams in Maldives that build boats or the multi-skilled Island Teams hired by contractors to build entire bungalow units at Resorts.

Good teams and companies recognize that producing defective products cost more than producing a high-quality one.

The solution: design quality into the learning process itself, particularly by enabling learners to make on-the-spot decisions and build the team skills that include communication, sharing, multi-skilling and support.

More students now combine in-school with on-the-job learning. This is a good way to start a career path. Don't tell them, show them, and let them practice. Practice makes them go through trial and error until they get it. This is a great skill to have.

Should employability skills be taught in schools? - Should they be included in the elementary, secondary or tertiary level?

In what curriculum level should employability skills be included?

See results

Anecdote that led to employment

Humor helps

I read this from Edmund Fuller's 2500 Anecdotes for All Occasions and thought of sharing this here.

"Many are called, but few are chosen" might well be the motto emblazoned above the doors of the Hollywood casting directors. One hopeful young actor was turned down time and again by the same company. Despairing yet determined, he made a final effort. Approaching one film director, he said, "It's now or never, if you want me in one of your pictures. I now have many companies after me."

"You have?" asked the director, his interest aroused by this statement. " What companies?"

"Well," said the actor seriously, "there's the telephone company, the electric and gas companies, the milk company..."

The director laughed - the actor got the job.

Do you have the Employability Skills for today's jobs?

Do you understand the challenges of the new workplace? If you are a student, what are you doing to ensure that you have those skills set that employers require? If you are a parent or a teacher, what are you doing to strengthen those skills in your students?

We are all responsible. It is time to do something about it.


© 2010 Mary Norton

What do you think? - Please share your comments.

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    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      7 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Gregory. This is really useful.

    • Gregory DeVictor profile image

      Gregory DeVictor 

      7 weeks ago from Squirrel Hill, PA

      Mary, you might find this article interesting. It shows how students at McDowell High School are learning life skills at the high school level:

      http://www.goerie.com/news/20180528/mcdowell-life-...

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      7 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      You are right Gregory and I am part of that education system which I think has grossly failed the students. There are a few who try to do something about this but we even asked ministries to send their teachers on internship in industry so they get to know some things necessary to teach the kids.

    • Gregory DeVictor profile image

      Gregory DeVictor 

      7 weeks ago from Squirrel Hill, PA

      Mary, thank you for a great article. When I was in college, I learned nothing about teamwork, job attitude, punctuality, and so forth. You are correct that many university professors know nothing about job attitude, etc. because they have never left the classroom.

      When I was a student at Gannon University back in Erie, I was required to take a number of education courses to get teacher certification in Pennsylvania. All of these courses were boring and purely theoretical. My real teacher training came on the job.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      7 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      You are right Peggy. Unless you update your skills continuosly, you risk being jobless. Lifelong learning is a concept we continue to convince people of in many countries.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Today's changing world means that people need to constantly stay abreast of new emerging jobs and have the updated skills that they necessitate. Being adaptable and able to get along with people certainly helps! Students should be taught these skills early on in their education. Education never truly ends whether one is in school or out in the workplace.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks antigravity. You are right. Sometimes, the change though is hard for some.

    • antigravity profile image

      antigravity 

      3 years ago

      Increase employment skills and follow the changing world and adapt to it .

    • profile image

      MartinTim 

      4 years ago

      Very helpful lens...It is not easy to be a manager and I know it. Again the lens is great and the writing style is superb.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      5 years ago

      Very helpful in finding work in today's job market.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this information, itâs very thorough and so well done!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 

      5 years ago

      Superb selection and description of today's skills.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @BrianRS: Yes, they can learn the skills easily but it takes time to change attitudes.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      5 years ago from France

      I used to be a senior manager and know that relevant skills and expertise are important. But a good attitude and the ability to work with others are equally as important. Very good and comprehensive lens, I enjoyed reading this.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @Gayle Dowell: You are right about investing more in teachers. But over and beyond that, it is leaving the teachers some freedom to act in the classroom and not constantly being hounded by fear of litigation.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      5 years ago from Kansas

      Great lens with a lot of good information on employable skills. I do think that we can do a better job of giving our children these skills in education. Give the teachers the tools to teach and pay them well for a job well done. We need to invest in the future of our country, in our children.

    • shawnhi77 lm profile image

      shawnhi77 lm 

      5 years ago

      With all the people looking for jobs I certainly hope they see this lens.

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 

      5 years ago

      Very comprehensive information. I think the requirement of skills will go on changing and it is high time for the schools and other educational institutions to gear up accordingly.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      Wonderful lens. Everyone should read this before entering the workplace. Blessed

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @atsikplornu1: Thank you so much for your very encouraging comments.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @craftycollector: Thank you for the knowledgeable comments you added. They are very helpful.

    • craftycollector profile image

      craftycollector 

      5 years ago

      An absolutely brilliant lens, well researched and totally realistic. Thanks, I really enjoyed it.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @AnnieAwYang: Thank you for your visit.

    • profile image

      EffectiveCommunicationAdvice 

      5 years ago

      When you talk about "employability skills", a key factor is a job candidate's communication skills and how he can get along in a team environment. A lot of people don't see that how you communicate with others is a key factor in your success.

    • profile image

      atsikplornu1 

      5 years ago

      Aesta1! Nice work.your lens is very great. Good keep it up. Thanks. Regards.

      atsikpolrnu1

    • profile image

      AnnieAwYang 

      5 years ago

      very good lesson

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @StefanT LM: Another key trait to develop. Thanks for underlining this here.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @EffectiveCommunicationAdvice: You are absolutely right. Success in the job is often because of this.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @DIY Mary: It will often take the company a month or two to train their new recruits if they have the qualities listed here.

    • profile image

      promisem lm 

      6 years ago

      Regarding No. 2 of what skills employers look for:

      Warren Buffett was quoted as saying something like, "I look for integrity, energy and intelligence. If they don't have the first one, the other two will kill youl."

      I'm no Warren Buffett, but I managed people for 30 years, and I think he's absolutely right.

      Nice lens!

    • DIY Mary profile image

      DIY Mary 

      6 years ago

      Great info! This lens is a real eye-opener when it comes to what employers now expect from new hires. I think that summer jobs and especially university co-op programs are the best ways a student can prepare him/herself to make the transition from school to the workplace as many of the non-technical skills that employers want are best learned on the job.

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 

      6 years ago

      Great job with this lens! You have sooo many great points and tips. Very helpful for those seeking help in employment.

    • profile image

      tammanasule 

      6 years ago

      Very nice lens.Seems you have done a lot of research and taken a lot of efforts for creating a well organised lens.You have provided good resources to support your lens.Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Returning to bless this gem, I must have been here a day way back when comments weren't coming through.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      This is a truly outstanding lens that reflects tremendous amount of work, planning and thought. I will be tweeting and FB liking it because people inside and outside of Squidoo should get the opportunity to see and use this valuable resource.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      6 years ago

      thank you for sharing this lens. very helpful for the newly grads.

    • profile image

      poutine 

      6 years ago

      Good tips and good lists provided in this lens.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      6 years ago

      Wow - quite the in-depth lens on employment success; if folks duplicate the quality of this page, they'll have no problems finding success. Many thanks for the hard work :)

    • AnnaAdam LM profile image

      AnnaAdam LM 

      6 years ago

      Huge knowledge about essentials skills to become successful at work place. I think it is very helpful for all professionals in any field.

    • mermaidlife profile image

      mermaidlife 

      6 years ago

      Good information for people out there looking for work.

    • laki2lav profile image

      laki2lav 

      6 years ago

      You have so much great info here that this lens can easily serve as a study course. great job!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      7 years ago

      Very informative and great looking lens. Awesome job!

      my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources

    • profile image

      celeBritys4africA 

      7 years ago

      Great work, I am happy to see you have been blessed three times. You deserve it.

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 

      7 years ago

      if i was scheduled for a job interview i would ask for as many prayers as i can get too! thank you for sharing this wonderful lens! cheers

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 

      7 years ago from Australia

      This is something we all need to be aware of, especially in this economic climate. Thanks for this comprehensive lens.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 

      7 years ago

      Lensrolled to my: Why the "Bad" in Society seem to be Winning, You are doing something right, if people don't like you, Getting IT together...Finding Happiness, Squidoo people with a good heart, Contest Winners for Squidoo people with a good heart and Feel Empowered to Change your Life lenses. Hope it helps!

      Intelligence and Prejudice

      Making Major Life Changes

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 

      7 years ago

      Wow, this is positively the most comprehensive lens I have read about skills for the workplace. I am featuring it your devoted section of my 'Squidoo people with a good heart' lens. Many, many teens, parents, employers, and others will benefit from the information you so wisely presented. Thank you so very much. Take good care, Rose

    • profile image

      moonlitta 

      7 years ago

      I don't nkow much about the american learning objectives; but employability skills are a problem not only in US. In my own country the problem results from schools focused on theoretical learning and lack of practical approach and developing real skills.

    • profile image

      nort43 

      7 years ago

      Go to University and mature...then go to a Community College and learn to DO something. There are literally hundreds of thousands of jobs empty right now desperately waiting for grads that can actually DO something. Why can't parents get the message. The social triumph of an unemployed child with an MA in Sociology is really questionable!

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 

      8 years ago

      Wow, so much info here and very well presented. Well done and thumbs up :)

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