Skills Upgrade

Rocker Bono and writer Thomas Friedman were quoted online as revealing the 3 skills that American workers need today. And though I doubt that anyone really knows the secret 3 ingredients in the sauce for workers, I was curious.

Friedman has written several books since he started a mantra with The World Is Flat. That book really kicked up the conversation about how the world is changing at an accelerated speed and that American workers were falling behind and needed to adapt their learning quickly for this shifting marketplace.

That is why they chose being a lifelong learner as one of those skills. He points to AT&T who have partnered with the online course provider Udacity as a way to update the skills of its workforce. The company offers employees about $8,000 per year to take courses. Friedman says this sends employees the message that a lifelong AT&T employee is a lifelong learner.

But professional development is not new. Perhaps the platform for it is new.

The second skill suggested to boost creativity is pausing. This one comes from Bono and his band U2. He says that unlike recording studio machines that on pause halt productivity, humans on pause begin a different kind of productivity through rethinking, reimagining and reflecting.

Clearly, the skills these two believe we need to cultivate are what are considered soft skills. Maybe you would have guessed the skills would include tech skills, like coding, data analytics or AI. Those are things workers can learn in courses and training sessions, but soft business skills are getting more attention lately.

Feedback from employers to colleges are often more about teaching soft skills such as the ability to give and receive feedback, and work collaboratively.

One reason is that machines (computers is too restrictive) are getting smarter and are taking over certain aspects of business, but interpersonal skills is an area that is machine-safe.

Friedman says something that I have not heard before. He claims that one of the first things on a résumé that business leaders evaluate is if applicants were in clubs like 4H or were an Eagle Scout. They find that is a good indicator of a work ethic and soft skills that allow people to grow and adapt with the business.

Bottom Line: Make learning a priority. Upgrade your skills. Increase creativity with an occasional pause. Develop interpersonal and communication skills.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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