Multiple Skills And The Ability To Learn Will Define Education And Expertise

Critical thinking, creativity and collaboration are key business skills which form the bedrock of executive education and success. These skills are relevant today and will be in the future too.

The pace of change is dizzying today. The modern workplace is evolving constantly. People change jobs frequently and move up the corporate ladder rapidly. Skills that were essential a few years ago have no relevance today. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to predict what kind of skills would be required in the future! According to a report by the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. The most in-demand occupations or specialties of today did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and this trend is likely to continue.

How then can we prepare for change we cannot anticipate? The WEF Report [1]speaks of present and future disruptors which will influence talent, qualifications and therefore hiring patterns in the coming years. It says, “While only a minority of the world’s global workforce of more than three billion people is directly employed by large and emerging multinational employers, these companies often act as anchors for smaller firms and local entrepreneurship ecosystems. Therefore… these firms have the potential to transform local labour markets through indirect employment and by setting the pace for changing skills and occupational requirements.” 

It brings us back to the key issue being discussed: the ability to assess, transform, adapt and capitalize. Aptitude and competency will have to be highly transferable. A one-dimensional capability to excel in a field will no longer suffice. Future leaders and innovators will need to be multi-skilled, highly flexible as the situation demands and able to manage diverse groups across wide geographies. The future of jobs is going to be more and more virtual, disparate and expansive. This may not hold true for traditional economic sectors like manufacturing, retail or say supply chain activities. But the ‘back end’, including channels and platforms, will be less physical, and you will work with people you may never see. 

Critical thinking, creativity and collaboration are key business skills which form the bedrock of executive education and success. These skills are relevant today and will be in the future too. Technological platforms based on engagement with people across the world, and the need for cooperation across countries and demographics, make these skills more in demand than ever before. Critical thinking enables an individual to make better decisions which are likely to impact multiple stakeholders. Creativity assists in arriving at innovative solutions which are relevant to all age groups. Without collaboration and communications skills, it is impossible to work with a dispersed and diverse team. Prospective employers, even those who usually recruited from traditional skill bases like engineering are now looking increasingly for people who bring a rounded and multi-layered vision. Here a multi-disciplinary education across a range of subjects proves to be far more effective. For example, one of our students who majored in political science was hired by leading consulting firm McKinsey because they could see the value of employees from a liberal arts and sciences background.

Trained in critical thinking, liberal education students have an innate ability to review a situation from multiple viewpoints, cut through ambiguity and find relevant answers. This is not to say technical education is not important, but it only teaches you what to think, while a liberal arts and sciences education teach you ‘how’ to think. This ability will be in great demand for the coming generations, as technology reshapes the world. The world will be connected even more efficiently and business will be conducted sans borders. Already autobots, automation and computers are taking on many complex technical skills and brute manpower alone is no longer a driver for success. China has demonstrated how policy design, efficiency, and ability to handle huge volumes can transform an economy. By contrast, India is a hub for international services, which will continue to contribute a larger percentage of our GDP.  To sustain and build on this strength, education is of singular importance. However, as many tech companies have lamented, fresh graduates lack the skills they need. Even if a student has some skills to start with, he or she needs to be able to upskill as necessary. His follow-up qualifications must also be aligned with the market requirements. He or she needs to question himself or herself constantly. Am I able to meet the expectations of my business and my employers? Do I bring innovation and unique thinking? Do I have a value proposition over and above the competition? The gaps thus identified will then have to be filled through new learning, which keeps his or her competitive edge sharp. With your first line of graduate qualifications giving you a foothold in the employment world, you are better equipped to go beyond the existing definition of talent, deal with complexity, and continually acquire the skills which are crucial for success.

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'Nov. 20, 2018' with cover story titled 'BW Education Issue Nov-Dec 2018'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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