HR News & Trends, Training & Development

Think We Have Skills Shortages Now? Just Wait Until We Get to 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 languages, 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?

Things we need to be thinking about

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 – is 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.

The 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 six 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.

10 critical skills we need to start teaching

The IFTF identifies and defines 10 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: The 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. Trans-disciplinarity: 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. 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.

Future skills shortage? It could upend everything

But, have you ever seen a job description requiring Trans-disciplinarity 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 on board, 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!

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com.

For more than 25 years, China Gorman has held strategic business leadership roles in the human capital management sector. She's currently the CEO for Great Place to Work, a company dedicated to improving society by helping companies create better workplaces. Well known for her tenure as Chief Operating Officer and interim CEO of SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), China also held the posts of President of DBM North America, and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, the global consulting division of Adecco, which became the performance leader in its industry under her leadership. Read her blog at ChinaGorman.com, and contact her at china@chinagorman.com.
  • Tim

    the ability to communicate face to face with one another is becoming a lost art that is highly critical. People think they can use email, voicemail and texting to do business but at the root of all good business is the interaction between two individuals. This is becoming a lost art how to deal with people and how to develop people through interaction. We are all bombarded by all manner of communications most of which give us nothing but a flat piece of text with no true emotion behind it only that which can be expressed by a few words. This isnt how business is done. Once we lose that interaction point we all become commodities and that is where the danger lies. Commodities are disposable. No sense of caring or feeling towards one another is a dangerous problem. This is where the real skills gap is. Hope we all snap out of it before its to late for all of us.

  • Guest

    Another bs article to make people anxious. What does the author know about the future ?

  • Tanuj

    I think its about fostering a culture of continuous improvement. With an approach that continuously looks to test how we run our business vis-a-vis the industry and making small changes over a period of time, we wouldn’t burden our employees on developing themselves to come to terms with a paradigm shift. What is listed above should not essentially be looked upon as skills, but rather as attributes that will enable people to develop the skills that will be required as businesses change.