The world faces changes in employment patterns being brought about by continuing progress in technology. The table given below presents (rank ordered) desirable university graduate job skills in Europe (Pathak, 2/11/2016). Since there is a steady increase in worldwide competition to hire highly qualified college graduates, such lists tend to be useful to employers throughout the world. They also are of interest to students and educational systems throughout the world.
As I looked at these two lists, I noticed that there is considerable change from what employers were looking for in 2015, and their more recent thoughts on what they are looking for in the near future. Employers hiring university graduates are looking for smart, well-educated employees who have a track record of having the ability to learn new things and make creative use of their brains to solve complex problems.
And, notice that cognitive flexibility has joined the new list. The world is changing. In things related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT), it is changing at a rapid pace. “We have always done it that way” is not a good starting point when addressing problems in a rapidly changing world.
It is interesting to note that, for the most part, few of the items on the list correspond directly to specific courses one might take in a university. For example, Complex Problem Solving remains #1 on both lists. It is true that every university course includes learning to solve the problems and accomplish the tasks in the specific discipline area the course covers. Also, problem solving in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities certainly overlap in that all require critical thinking. However, problem solving in these disciplines differ substantially because of the major differences in the specific problem areas they address.
ICT is affecting every academic area, but many of the changes are quite specific to a discipline. For example, consider the types of changes ICT has made in the sciences versus the changes ICT has brought to music or to graphic arts.
Presumably, employers also look for more specific knowledge and skills that relate to the particular job opening they have available. For example, some will be looking for employees who are skilled at making use of ICT as an aid to dealing with complex problems and critical thinking in their specialty area. Nowadays, many are looking for employees to have some knowledge about how artificial intelligence is or could be affecting the particular job they are being hired to fill. As an aid to successful adult employment, all levels of precollege and higher education need to thoroughly integrate the 4th R of Reasoning (computational thinking) throughout their programs of study.
I assume that university graduates have general skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic (math), so that it is not necessary to specifically list these as desired job qualifications. However, I find it interesting that neither of the lists specifically mentions ICT. I have written extensively about the 4th R of Reasoning (computational thinking) in recent years, and now consider it to be one of the basics of a good education (Moursund, 4/17/2017 and 12/23/2016). However, the educational systems of the world have a long way to go before the average high school graduate will have strong basic skills in Reasoning (computational thinking) that we expect them to have in Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic (math).
What You Can Do
Teachers, parents, and students should all be aware of what constitutes a “good” education for our current and rapidly changing world. One aspect of a good education is that it prepares students for gainful employment. While the lists of desirable job skills given above focus on university graduates, they are applicable to all job seekers. Help all students to get an education that prepares them for this employment reality.
Spend some time reading forecasts on the future of employment. For example, you may enjoy reading Workforce of the Future: The Competing Forces Shaping 2030 (PWC, 2018).
References and Resources
Moursund, D. (2018). Problem solving. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 6/13/2018 from http://iae-pedia.org/Problem_Solving.
Moursund, D. (2018). What the future is bringing us. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 6/13/2018 from http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us.
Moursund, D. (4/17/2017). Education for the future: A special message for teachers. IAE Blog. Retrieved 6/13/2018 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/education-for-the-future-a-special-message-for-teachers.html.
Moursund, D. (12/23/2016). The Fourth R. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/289-the-fourth-r/file.html. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/290-the-fourth-r-1/file.html. Access the book online at http://iae-pedia.org/The_Fourth_R.
Pathak, P. (2/11/2016). What skills do employers value most in graduates? World Economic Forum. Retrieved 6/13/2018 from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/what-skills-do-graduates-need-to-get-a-job.
PWC (2018). Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030. Retrieved 6/14/2018 from http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=Workforce+of+the+future%3a+The+competing+forces+shaping+2030.&d=4649260947277149&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=8fPqnX2JOoVCPToQtUbDBAAjE-fmSMjy.