Modern workplaces are as much a living breathing thing as the world they operate in. They are ever-changing and evolving, and as a result, offer new daily challenges and goals. It’s a collaborative and competitive environment for any newcomer. The best modern workplace skills for students to have foster trust, forge leadership, and create productive results.

All kinds of organizations seek these kinds of recruits. Luckily the modern workplace skills listed below cover pretty much all the bases.

12 Modern Workplace Skills for Students to Master

So what’s on the list? Practicality, versatility, and adaptability are key here. These are the kinds of modern workplace skills that never go out of style. As workforces evolve, these skills will likely become even more important.

Independent Problem Solving Skills

This one heads the list for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that technology transforms the very fabric of our society. Our students will be coming up against challenges we can’t even conceive. There are literally problems not yet invented that will need creative and versatile solutions applied to them.

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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.

Digital Media Literacy Skills

It’s an interactive world we live in nowadays. 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.

Any student can benefit from a solid foundation of computer-related skills to enter the workforce with. Understanding technology and digital media is among the modern workplace skills that are becoming more indispensable as time—and tech—go on.

Information 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 2 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. That’s why these are the kinds of skills that are taught within the process of Information Fluency.

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. 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.

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.

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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. It’s the exact same thing for the workplaces they will graduate into.

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.

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.

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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.

Useful Failure Skills

Great students and workers turn mistakes into proactive moments of clarity. This means seeing failure as an opportunity. If we can use our mistakes to learn and to flourish, then we need never fear them. No matter what, we are always moving forward with a “useful failure” mindset. Establishing an intention to learn from failure and use it to grow as person, and then delivering on that promise, is exceptional.

It’s also the responsibility of those in authority to ensure that this is nurtured. Blame, guilt, admonishment, and derision for mistakes hinders progress and prosperity. This again is true of both the classroom and the workplace. As teachers or business leaders, we must provide encouragement and guidance when errors are made. This is how success grows for everyone.

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—the lady knew what she was talking about.

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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. 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.

Entrepreneurial Skills

Look around you. In the past, everything you see began with one thing: an idea. The future needs ideas. It needs vision, and commitment to achieving excellence. It requires passion for solutions and innovations. Those with ideas—or at least the desire to make a mark on the world—will do well. The ability to author an original idea and take the lead on it will be even more valuable.

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. Physical spaces expand and contract. Money is made and lost. People gain and lose control. This is the game of life.

Here we echo the words of Rudyard Kipling and ask: Can you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you?

The ability to adapt and be agile in the face of change 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.

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.

What other modern workplace skills do you think our students can benefit from having?




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