The seven survival skills of the 21st century

When bomber jackets were the height of fashion young people could skate through life with very basic skills and still look forward to a promising career. Today the 21st century workplace demands some very particular skills from the labour market, over and above the standard qualification.

Dr Tony Wagner co-director of Harvard's Change Leadership Group discusses the findings of a survey conducted on senior executives and workforce readiness programmes. The research reveals that there are seven survival skills which every young person will need to get a good job and be successful.

? Critical thinking and problem-solving

To compete in national and international markets businesses need to engage the entire workforce in a problem-solving discussion. The purpose is to create products and services that meet customer demands. Whether the aim is to be more cost-effective, provide better quality or offer greater value for money, organizations need to constantly improve their unique selling point. For this reason employers need people who can properly analyses needs and provide solutions.

? Collaboration across networks and leading by influence

The word "team? can no longer be used as a reference to departments or units within a company, neither are teams limited to space or time. Teamwork is now a countrywide or even an international process. Respect for different religions, culture and races, will be critical to the productivity of global teams.

? Agility and adaptability

In the business context adaptability is often defined as the ability to move from one position or job to another. However, even those who remain in the same job for years will need to adapt to dynamic business environments. Restructuring in organizations has become a necessity rather than a routine practice. Employees will need the skills to change and grow in their positions if the company is to remain competitive.

? Effective oral and written communication

The primary complaint of educators and employers is that "students don?t know how to communicate effectively?. According to Wagner poor written communication is a result of poor analytical thinking. In addition students lack the art of persuasive writing, and are unable to clearly articulate their message.

In his video 7 skills students need for the future Dr Wagner offers insight into these "must have? skills of the 21st century including; Initiative and entrepreneurialism, Accessing and analyzing information and Curiosity and imagination.

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By Cindy Payle