By Diane Dunton
Listening to a talk by Dr. Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, was a reminder of what is needed today as the American economy continues to shift. Dr. Wagner commented that 72 percent of our American economy is based on consumer spending, in which people go into debt.
He raises the question: "What will drive the economic engine in the future?"
Global Learning Gap
Dr. Wagner's talk was focused on the global learning gap. He had interviewed senior executives and reviewed workforce readiness reports. He was assessing the skills that will be needed in a global economy.
As I listened to his talk, I found that the skills are not any different for students than they are for people who are looking for new jobs in companies today. The jobs that existed yesterday and were eliminated, thus creating job loss, are not the jobs of tomorrow. New skills will be required.
According to Dr. Wagner, today's students need the following skills:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Collaboration and leading by influence
- Agility and adaptability
- Initiative and entrepreneurship
- Effective oral and written communication
- Accessing and organizing information
- Curiosity and imagination
Developing Your Skills
This is a tall order for teaching in the schools, but is it any different than what job seekers need to consider as they look for new opportunities in the job market? I would encourage each job seeker to assess their own skills and determine their own strengths and areas of opportunity.
In working with many clients, I have found that the shift is a desire to be part of a new growing organization/company that is innovative or a desire to start their own business. In each of these scenarios, being able to present yourself with the skills listed above can make you a stronger candidate or a more successful entrepreneur.
How do you go about developing these skills? I will illustrate a couple of examples from the list of seven that you can do to increase your skill level.
Collaboration and Leading by Influence
Volunteer to be part of a community-serving board, of which you are passionate about the cause. Be part of an event working with others and bring your knowledge and expertise.
I worked with a successful, businessperson who never thought he had the skills to serve on a Board. When I first suggested exploring this option, he rejected it. Then, he sought out an opportunity. I have seen him grow as a leader, collaborator and influencer through his experience.
Curiosity and Imagination
Take a class on something new that you have always been curious about (history, archaeology or astronomy, for example) or sign-up for a photography or painting class.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with my four-year-old grandson. What an imagination! What curiosity! From the ages of four to eight, imagination and curiosity are abundant. With age, we can lose so much of this. Find time to play, be curious and have fun.
In the coming months, I will explore the other skills. Get started and begin to develop your skills for the 21st century.