You Think We Have Skills Shortages Now? Let’s Talk in 2020!

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Skills shortages in 2020 will rise to an entirely new level. And I’m not talking about STEM skills, although they’re critical. Or the ability to speak multiple parched earthlanguages, which needs to be more common in the U.S. Or even the readiness of college graduates to take a place in the economy, which a majority of employers report is lacking.

I’m talking about the skills that the globally-connected, superstructured, computationally focused, smart-machine powered organizations of the future staffed by longer living and working, new media using employees will require.

We’re all thinking about that right? We’re re-writing job descriptions and re-wording job postings to incorporate the emerging skills we know we’ll need. Aren’t we? Well, maybe not. We know the names of the skills we can’t get today – those STEM, analytical thinking, communication and personal responsibility/accountability skills we’re sure our young people don’t have.

But really. What about the skills for the future?  I’m not sure what we’ll call those skills. I’m not even sure they’re skills, to be honest, but here’s what I do know:

  • People are living longer and will want/need to have longer careers
  • Smart machines are taking over the most routine workplace tasks
  • Data – big, medium and small – are changing the way decisions are being made at every organizational level
  • Text isn’t the only way we communicate any more
  • Organization structures and behaviors are changing due to social technologies
  • We say “Global” but what that really mean is that innovation and growth will be primarily driven through the integration of differing cultural norms and diversity

IFTF LogoThe Institute for the Future’s Future Work Skills 2020 highlights recent research that predicts the kinds of skills for which we’ll be recruiting in 2020 (which is only 6 and-a-half years away). Trust me when I write that the majority of HR/recruiting professionals are not ready for this. ATSs aren’t ready for this. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter aren’t ready for this. And clearly, our education infrastructure isn’t ready for this. And yet, here we are.

The IFTF identifies and defines ten skills that we need to begin to teach now so we can deploy them in six-and-a-half-years.  They are:

  1. Sense-making:  the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social Intelligence:  the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel & Adaptive Thinking:  proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural Competency:  ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational Thinking:  the ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New-media Literacy:  the ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarity:  literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design Mindset:  the ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive Load Management:  the ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  10. 10.   Virtual Collaboration:  the ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual teaSocial intelligence (we call it EQ today, I think) and Cross-cultural Competency are certainly emerging in more sophisticated and global organizations currently. Perhaps we have a leg up with these two.

But have you ever seen a job description requiring Transdisciplinarity and a Design Mindset?

What kind of behavioral interview questions would you use to determine if a candidate has Cognitive Load Management and Novel/Adaptive Thinking Skills?

How would you Tweet those jobs? How would your careers page change?

And once onboard, how would you manage the performance of employees’ Virtual Collaboration and Sense-making?

And speaking of job descriptions and performance management, how will New-media Literacy and Social Intelligence change the very nature of these processes?

Whew! We think the current skills shortage is frustrating and scary. It could be that the future skills shortage will upend everything!

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5 Comments

Filed under Annual Performance Reviews, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Hiring Difficulty, HR Data, Institute for the Future, Performance Management, Skills Shortage, STEM, Workforce Skills

5 responses to “You Think We Have Skills Shortages Now? Let’s Talk in 2020!

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  5. I’ve been using that graphic in SWP presentations since it came out (seems like longer ago than 2011), and it NEVER fails to get a really strong discussion going, especially when I’m facilitating a discussion about the future with biz leaders and HR together. Even when organizations haven’t yet got it together to work out their own future strategic skills, these really get them thinking. Great to see you promoting them, and keen to hear more on how they work out for you in getting these discussions going. I worry that we don’t push this information into the business enough, so they don’t know to work with us on enabling this stuff in our recruiting and development processes!

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