In 2019, we, along with a senior advisor and a team of undergraduate students, explored 21st century workforce skills. Our research, along with reputable public research, confirms that current educational institutions have not been successful in preparing people for the 21st century’s digital society and the workforce needs that accompany it. Specifically, these individuals lack the soft skills required to keep an organization operating efficiently. These skills include negotiation, critical thinking, problem-solving, time management, communication, interpersonal skills and work ethic, among others. We like to call these “Power Skills” because they are so crucial to the future of the workforce and those who master these skills will indeed find themselves in powerful positions to create the future they want.
Globally, business leaders are seeking employees who possess these Power Skills. Unfortunately, the gap between available talent and mastery of these core competencies is growing wider. Gartner, a technological research and consulting firm, also sees the skills gap increasing in size, “The number of skills that employers are looking for has risen dramatically — Gartner analysis shows that companies listed about 33% more skills on job ads in 2020 than they did in 2017.” (1)
Additionally, employers are seeking employees who can do what machines cannot do. Based on findings in a report from the World Economic Forum, “43% of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task-specialized work, and only 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration. By 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal. A significant share of companies also expect to make changes to locations, their value chains, and the size of their workforce due to factors beyond technology in the next five years.” (2)
In short, employees with highly specialized skills, especially those that can’t be automated, will be in high demand. It is important that we begin to close the gap and empower the future of the workforce.