Modern workplaces are as much a living breathing thing as the world they operate in. Ever-changing and evolving, they offer new daily challenges and goals constantly. It’s a collaborative and competitive environment for any newcomer. The best modern workplace skills for students to have are the ones that foster trust, promote a leadership mindset, and create productive results.
Luckily the modern workplace skills listed below cover pretty much all the bases. Practicality, versatility, and adaptability are key here since most organizations seek these kinds of recruits. These are the kinds of working skills that never go out of style, and as our global marketplace evolves they will likely even increase in value.
1. Independent Problem Solving Skills
This one heads the list for a number of reasons, the biggest being that technology continually transforms the very fabric of our society. Our students will be coming up against challenges we can’t even conceive and problems not yet invented that will need creative and versatile solutions applied to them. Of course, the problems of the present need just as much attention.
Problem solving ability is a top priory as far as modern workplace skills go. A guided process for doing this is what the 6Ds of Solution Fluency are all about. Consider it a timeless teachable and learnable system that will serve our students well.
2. Digital Media Literacy Skills
It’s an interactive world we live in nowadays in which all aspects of businesses and how they advertise are becoming more visual and virtual. An understanding of the messages in media and the technology creating them is crucial. This is why we teach Media Fluency skills to today’s students. Understanding technology and digital media is among the modern workplace skills that are becoming more indispensable as both time and tech go on.
3. Information Literacy Skills
There’s so much information being created every single day it’s staggering. Bernard Marr has some Web facts that are blowing people’s minds. You can check them out in the article Big Data: 20 Mind-Boggling Facts Everyone Must Read. Here are a few highlights:
- More data has been created in the past few years than the entire history of humanity.
- By 2020 we’ll be creating about 1.7 MB of new information every second for every person in the world.
- Right now, less than 0.5% of all this data is ever analyzed and used.
Someone’s got to be able to wade through all this. Modern workforces need those who can critically analyze, organize, and utilize information. Information Fluency teaches precisely these kinds of skills in a cyclical process that will serve our learners well.
4. Creativity Skills
Creativity has more of a home among modern workplace skills than it ever has. It’s what gives businesses the edge with their products and marketing. The creative mind not only designs an innovative product or service, but knows how to make it irresistible.
Consider this statement made by Norio Ohga, the former chairman of Sony Corporation, as quoted in Re-Imagine magazine in 2003:
“At Sony, we assume that all products of our competitors have basically the same technology, price, performance, and features. Design is the only thing that differentiates one product from another in the marketplace.”
According to Paul Thompson, the director of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York:
“Manufacturers have begun to recognize that we can’t compete with the pricing structure and labor costs of the Far East. So how can we compete? It has to be with design.”
Creativity Fluency demonstrates that this is a set of skills that can actually be learned. It stresses that there is creative potential within all of us. The success of any business in a marketplace saturated with consumer options depends strongly on the presence of creative minds attending every product development meeting. These are skills that cannot and must not be overlooked.
These are the kinds of working skills that never go out of style, and as our global marketplace evolves they will likely even increase in value.
5. Communication & Collaboration Skills
As mentioned before, the workplaces of today and tomorrow are collaborative. We are just as easily establishing virtual partnerships with people across the world as those across the room. Modern workplace skills like Collaboration Fluency focus on building teams that take businesses to new heights.
Collaborative practices begin in the classroom. That’s where our students form groups to solve problems and create projects. It’s how they interact and work together that determines their success, and it’s the same in the workplaces they will graduate into.
6. Digital Citizenship Skills
Digital citizenship is everyone’s business. It means being able to govern our actions in all online communications and endeavours. Think of everything from sending a text to global project-related online information sharing. Respectability and responsibility in all these activities is part of digital citizenship.
Our personal and business reputations are deeply affected by our behaviour in the digital world. Who we are as people and business partners is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. Our students must learn to demonstrate and maintain exemplary online personas that project professionalism.
7. Independent & Critical Thinking Skills
Any successful business draws on an employee’s ability to think critically and independently. Workers who need constant direction and supervision are often seen as a detriment to an organization. As such, these people will become less and less employable in the future. The same can be said for those unwilling or unable to think deeply and analytically about any issue.
It also means being able to spot problems and the potential for them before they happen. This kind of “cognitive initiative” can save businesses untold sums of time and money. Our students absolutely must add critical and independent thinking to their catalog of modern workplace skills.
8. Personal Organization Skills
There’s a reason why Mom told you to clean up after yourself and pick up your toys. She wasn’t being tyrannical or bossy; she was teaching you a valuable and respectable life skill for home, school, and work. Grumble all you want, but the lady knew what she was talking about.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe instructed us as follows: Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean. The capacity for personal order ranks fairly high among modern workplace skills. Outward order is a reflection of inward order, and it positively affects everyone around us in the work environment. It’s the kind of thing that leaves a good impression on teachers, employers, and co-workers alike.
9. Adaptability and Agility Skills
Nothing ever stays the same. Companies get demolished, ideas fade, promises get broken, and people go their own ways. Positions get handed to new people and others get moved around. Promotions and demotions happen regularly and physical spaces expand and contract. Money is made and lost, and people gain and lose control. Welcome to the game of life.
The ability to adapt and be agile in the face of such change and uncertainty is a must among modern workplace skills. Work and life will throw curveballs of every kind at us. The person who would lead stands fast with change, keeps a clear head, and fixes an eye on the future.
10. Relationship Building Skills
Finally we come to relationships. Life is built on them, as is success and progress. Only by interacting with others can we truly learn and grow. We can know our own strengths and limitations better. We can also come to understand others better by having solid relationship skills. This makes collaboration so much more enjoyable and productive. Students should make fostering interpersonal skills of all kinds a priority.
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
The 5Ps above indicate a philosophy that, when combined with the 10 modern workplace skills above, will set our students up to thrive and succeed immeasurably. But right now they’re in your hands, and preparing them well for the coming challenges of life is the main focus.