Robin Goldberg

By David Coyne, Director of the Centre for Work Based Learning 

The business world as we know it is changing, and changing fast. People talk about the future of work being “industry 4.0”, but the reality is it’s no longer the future; it’s here, right now. Technology is already transforming the workplace (for good and bad) beyond recognition, and that in turn has a huge impact on the skills we need to manage that disruption going forward.

As the real and virtual worlds mesh ever closer together, the skills needed to manage and exploit these ‘new world’ opportunities also have to mesh together. It will no longer be enough to have just the technical or professional skills of old. These will have to be enhanced by the softer human skills – often referred to as metaskills – if workers (and organisations) are going to survive and thrive.

Take being a lawyer for example. It used to be enough to excel with their knowledge of law, and their ability to use that to solve quite specific problems. But this type of “deep domain expertise” in just one discipline is no longer fit for purpose , and “non traditional” skills such emotional intelligence, cultural fluency, innovation, and collaboration are now not only needed, but are expected.

The same can be said of data scientists for example. There was a time being able to analyse and interpret data, often in isolation, was all that those professionals had to do. But now they need to be able to work with others in their business, and even external stakeholders, to make that data come alive in an innovative, meaningful and impactful way.

That being the case, we must make every effort RIGHT NOW to ensure that our young people have access to educational options that complement the established academic routes, and those that are already in work are given the opportunity to upskill and reskill to help them flourish.

Work-based learning is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that adaptability, flexibility and resilience, and for making sure our companies, charities and the public sector have the talent they need to manage the tectonic transformation taking place.

From apprenticeships, to boot camps; from flexible and distance learning, through to mentorship programmes and even mini MBAs or internal universities, these type of programmes (and more) will be essential for our personal as well as economic wellbeing and prosperity.

At our “Skills 4.0 #AHumanFuture” symposium last year, guest speaker Robin Goldberg of the San Francisco based Minerva University, said: “Core skills need to be taught from fundamental concepts, so students can develop a lens of critical thinking they can bring to new situations and problems. There is an opportunity to use those skills universally, and by teaching habits of mind along with opportunities to practice, it results in an adaptive workforce which is prepared for any challenge.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

For more information about CWBL visit their website, and for a white paper on metaskills visit the Skills Development Scotland website.

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31 May 2019