The 2019 LinkedIn Global Talent survey states that “… soft (Human) skills is where machines can’t compete”. In fact, most jobs (today and in the future) will be attributing at least as much importance to soft skills like communication, flexibility, motivation, persuasion, problem solving abilities, teamwork, time management and work ethic as it does to hard skills. The LinkedIn Survey notes that “Hard skills matter but at the same time, while “the half-life of many hard skills is shrinking, soft skills stay relevant.” So, EMPLOYABILITY in today's world is very much a function of how well we master both hard AND soft skills.
This much is clear and most organizations, as well as some of the more progressive organisational and educational institutions, recognize it and have invested significantly in building the soft skill competencies of their employees. With the advent of AI (artificial intelligence), advanced robotics and other exponential technologies, the big question on people's mind now is what the FUTURE OF WORK will look like in this new environment. What new human capacity and capability will be needed, in addition to hard and soft skills and competencies?
Clearly competing with the productivity benefits of advanced technology is not a viable employability strategy going forward. We believe the future of work will require human beings to express more of their innate creativity in order to imagine new solutions for the grand challenges we face as a society (climate change, population growth, income inequality...). At least in the short and medium term, this is not something that technology will be able to do for us.
A recent McKinsey study supports this vision. It concludes that the “Creativity” will see the biggest increase in hours worked between now and 2030 (at 40%) for Higher Cognitive Skills, while “Entrepreneurship”, “Leadership and managing others” and “Interpersonal skills and empathy” will see the biggest increase in hours (at 33%, 33% and 30% respectively) for “Soft and Emotional Skills”.
Other experts, like NYU Professor Richard Sennett, advocate that the future of work is about how well a person hones in on their own craft and becomes better at it than 99% of the population. Craftsmanship, he says, is an “enduring basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.” Whether you’re a coder, customer sales rep, surgeon, or lawyer, your work is craft, and if you hone your ability and apply it with respect and care, you can generate meaning in the daily efforts of your professional life.
Therefore, creativity, entrepreneurship, (self) leadership, empathy, craftsmanship (or ‘craftwomanship’) and meaning, will be the buzzwords of the future. This is not only what will be expected from employees going forward, it's also what the younger generation of more conscious leaders, policy makers and educators will demand! EMPLOYABILITY in the future will require us to go beyond hard and soft skills.
Hard skills competencies have been the mainstay of job coaching and Employability training programs. It is the “easy” (more tangible) part of learning and training because it is mainly adding more information, content and knowledge of “what we know”. But the real challenge for leaders, policy makers and educators is that they “are struggling to asses soft skills without a formal process, despite their growing value”, which is intangible and mostly hidden.
The LinkedIn 2019 Talent survey notes that, “… leaders and HR professionals often use social cues in interviews to assess soft skills, and the problem is that these perceptions” (e.g. She seemed upbeat, so she’s probably a good collaborator) are predictive and worse they are often unconsciously biased. “If companies want a hiring strategy for the future, they need to change how they identify and hire for soft skills.”
This also suggests that if policy makers and educators want an employability developmental and educational strategy of the future, they need to change how they identify and develop policies, curriculum and programs beyond hard and soft skills.
Ultimately, when we dive deeper into the cognitive, developmental and psychological nature of soft (human) skills, it will be all about expressing and unleashing HUMAN POTENTIAL, inherent in our human nature and being.
In other words, we will need to look deep inside ourselves and connect with the creativity and passion that fuels our unique craft and inspires greatness. Only this will unleash the next wave of value creation for organizations and governmental agencies while at the same time providing a deep sense of meaning for the individual.
The figure below illustrates how our Employability Assessment + Future of Work framework will embrace and require a "whole-person" approach to Employability soft skills. By integrating our hard and soft skills WITH the innate sense of purpose that lies inside each one of us, it will be possible to unlock vast amounts of underutilized Human Potential, access creative breakthroughs and turn a simple job into a meaningful craft.
Our unique Future of Work and Employability assessment for policy makers and organizational leaders is a holistic tool to measure all the key levers that will enable success of the future workforce. The output of this 83-question survey includes:
1. Employability Index: a robust assessment of how well a person will perform in today's environment. This index takes into account:
· A person's hard skill qualifications which determine the depth and breadth of work that he or she can take on at a certain point in time.
· A person's ability to master the 10 most important soft skills (what we refer to as behaviour skills).
2. Future of Work Index: a robust assessment of how well a person will perform in the future environment. This index takes into account::
· The extent to which a person embraces what we refer to as the 8 Being Attitudes. These are the attitudes or mindsets that we must adopt in order to fully access the inner resourcefulness that lies within each one of us.
· As well as the hard and soft skills as outlined above.
3. Personal Performance Metrics: a robust assessment of how the combination of a person's hard skills, soft skills and Being Attitudes will determine their ability to impact the five Professional Performance Measures (i.e. the five key priorities for employers (PPMs): Trustworthiness, Getting Things Done, Inventiveness, Personal Engagement and Stakeholder Orientation) as illustrated in the "Future of Work" wheel below.
The 8 Being Attitudes are at the core of the wheel, the 10 soft skills or behaviour skills in the middle and the Personal Performance Metrics on the outer circle.
 The 2019 LinkedIn Global Talent survey