When we discuss changes to curriculum at Olds College one thing that we are always trying to stress is employability skills. We talk about good writing skills, the ability to put your thoughts together in an organized format onto paper in some type of report or other structure. We also are concerned with people skills, understanding our own thoughts and emotions and also relating well with others (almost makes you think about kindergarten – not a diploma college program). Communicating your ideas is another essential skill today’s students need to have. Leadership is talked about – but not taught or worked on enough in my opinion. Research is another employability skill – both online and regular old library research.
Going beyond the ‘just out of school’ employability skills – what are the skills that people need 15-20 years into their career. Possibly when changing directions. Branching out into a new industry, into upper management, or out on their own – to run their own business. What skills are necessary at this age – and how can someone acquire these skills.
Leadership has to be top of the list – or maybe co-leadership. Being able to lead your section, your team, but at the same time being able to work jointly with a management or leadership team. Corporate offices are not near as linear as they once were. Much more sharing of ideas, co-leadership and project based initiatives. Therefore being able to effectively contribute to this process at a high level is essential to moving up, or moving out and building your own team.
Strategic thinking has to be next. Maybe call it a mixture of Big Picture and Get Results thinking. Senior managers and business owners have to be clear on their objectives, but at the same time have to find a realistic way to get things done. They must be able to get their hands dirty when needed. But cannot put on blinders to new opportunities or threats that may be coming their way. And the opportunities are coming faster every day – they must grab the right ones and quickly align the people and the company to take advantage at the right time.
Finally, communication has to be right up there as a necessary senior employability skill. I have seen some great strategists, that can also do some ok leadership – but then they fail to communicate at some level. Remember – there are many levels of stakeholders in every business. It is up to senior management, the leaders, the business owners to be sure that everyone knows the objectives, the goals, and what the other people are doing. That can be inspiring to have the right vision communicated throughout the organization. At another level, simple person to person ‘I care’ communication can also be instrumental in making a tough situation tolerable, and make a good workplace GREAT.