Careful Considerations Before Jumping on the Bandwagon of Adopting ‘Emerging Skills’

April 24, 20178:45 am859 views

In this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) economy, companies are constantly seeking for market leadership or just trying to stay afloat. Business owners and strategists are keen on developing innovative solutions and services.

In the recent years, most of them seemingly have the notion “to stay ahead of their competitors; they require a workforce that can drive and sustain innovations.” This workforce should be equipped with 21st-century future skills to meet the current business requirements and strategic goals. There is a tendency to believe that these ‘emerging skills’ will provide the leverage in bringing innovation and unmatched productivity for their business.

Is jumping on the bandwagon of adopting these skills worth investing, let’s look at some of the considerations.

Here’s the first to consider, what are the ‘emerging skills’ then?

Skills needed to achieve performance for new work process or technology application, and in a new field or context that is gaining popularity. Some of these emerging 21st-century skills, that are most-sought after by businesses today are:

  • Data analytics
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • New media literacy
  • Social intelligence
  • Transformative leadership
  • Design thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Entrepreneurial mindset (creativity)
  • Service orientation

Relevance to the business operation

When selecting the ‘emerging skill’ required, it is important to re-examine the relevance of the skill, and how its targeted outcome on skills learning and development helps meet the intended business goal. A hypothetical example for this would be:

Service-orientation: Staff to apply customer- centric techniques to serve.

Desired outcome: satisfied customer -> more and repeated sales.

Ideally, the acquisition of such a skill should enable the worker to achieve any one or more of the outcomes stated below:

  • Improve work quality and efficiency
  • Rise to ‘new’ challenges (new applications, technology)
  • Increase productivity
  • Higher contribution towards business viability
  • Become innovative
  • Amplify business networks
  • Strengthen belief and values

See: MCI Unveils Strategies to Deepen Digital Capabilities of Singaporeans

Now, here’s the critical part, what are the key considerations for adopting these ‘emerging skills’?

  1. Do these ‘emerging skills’ align with the current and projected business direction?

Do these skills: a) contribute to the attainment of the overall macro and micro business goals b) Deliver a bigger impact comparatively against the existing conventional ones (that have been tried and tested).

  1. How would these skills translate to staff performance and eventually drive business success?
  1. What are the resources needed to align such skill development activities with business outcomes?
  1. How does one differentiate and apply these skills effectively in the organisation?
  1. Who are the ones in your organisation, who would be most ‘suited’ to adopt these skills? And what portion of these people are currently present in the organisation?
  1. What are the likely costs and ‘projected returns on investment’ on adopting these emerging skills?
  1. Are there supporting structures to develop and implement these new skills learned and honed in the organisation?

Resource limitations and the lack of employee ‘buy-ins’ are usually top resistance factors for successful skill implementation. There isn’t a perfect mix of meeting all conditions for adopting these skills. Hence, it is vital for business owners and their key stakeholders to weigh the value (benefits) and constraints of emerging skill adoption with their current business operation.

When all risks involved are carefully analysed and aligned with the business requirements, the adopting these emerging skills could potentially help bridge talent-skill mismatch gaps, overcome the skilled labour talent crunch faced by the economy at large, and thus you’re your business get a step closer towards achieving the desired goals.

Author credit:

Johnson Wong, L&D Consultant, CET Global Pte Ltd. A design-thinker and learning strategist, he has more than 15 years of experience working in learning and development field, for the higher education sector and private training entities, where he has conducted numerous research studies, facilitation and training workshops in both private and public schools.

Johnson exemplifies lifelong learning throughout his career and has earned diverse range of credentials to include Master of Science, Bachelors Degree in Engineering Management, Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management, WSQ Diploma in Adult and Continuing Education and WSQ ACTA. He is appointed Associate Adult Educator by Adult Educators’ Professionalisation (AEP), Institute of Adult Learning. At CET Global, he provides services for clients in learning design, learning technology solutions (e-courses) and training advisory.

Also read: Innovative Learning 2020: Candid Q&A with Dr. Gog Soon Joo of SkillsFuture Singapore

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