Essential Career Readiness Skills of the Future

  By Dr. Frank Burtnett  |    Monday March 13, 2018

Category: Certification, Columns, Education, Expert Advice

One of the difficult tasks that search and staffing firms must master is determining the essential requirements for future entry and success in the fields of employment they represent. Knowing what will be expected of the next generation of individuals in a career field (i.e., health & medicine, hospitality, STEM, business & finance, etc.) is an indispensable ingredient to success in placement world, a task made more difficult by the emergence of new occupations, representing fresh or heretofore unknown bodies of knowledge and skillsets.

Futurists take pleasure in telling us that many of the occupations in the contemporary workplace didn’t exist the day the current workforce started kindergarten, a trend that continues at an accelerated pace today. Even the jobs that have been around for generations look dramatically different from when they were performed by our parents and grandparents. While these jobs were changing and evolving, hundreds of other occupations were becoming obsolete and disappearing. 

No wonder then that more successful search and staffing firms are those “keeping up with the times” by monitoring developments and trends which they translate into relevant services for their candidates and clients.


A Look into the Career Crystal Ball


Few analysts can predict with perfect certainty the identities of the jobs of the future. Less difficult, however, may be the identification of basic skills that---when present---would be desirable across the entire world of work. A look into our various career crystal balls could possibly yield the answers.

Criticized roundly in recent times for not preparing students who are equipped to succeed, schools and colleges appear to be willing today to address this deficiency. The addition of “career readiness” to “career capability” represents a theme that is currently gaining attention in both the education and employment sectors. Career capability, in this instance, represents the body of knowledge and skillset required to practice a particular occupation (i.e., nurse, engineer, lawyer, accountant, etc.). Career readiness, on the other hand, represents a more refined set of abilities and talents that enhance one’s employability and effectiveness after workplace entry.


Desirable Career Readiness Skills of the Future


Once cultivated in the classrooms of our schools and colleges, the five career readiness skills identified below would enhance the employability of their graduates. Each would be welcomed by employers as competencies they could nurture and develop through “on the job” engagement within the employment setting. While preferred by employers of the past and present, these skills are considered likely to be the subject of greater scrutiny in the future.

Learning skills beyond just the knowledge and functions of a particular occupation that embrace an appreciation for learning, acceptance of its career long presence and a mastery of the technologies that support and extend our occupational capabilities.


Planning and management skills, embracing such structural characteristics as the ability to set and monitor goals, establish time and performance milestones and evaluate outcomes in an organized and cost-efficient manner.


Communication skills, including listening, speaking, writing, networking and when required---the ability to teach and persuade others.


Interactive skills, including openness toward participation in a multiple role or team environment, working with diverse players and acceptance of different roles.


Problem solving and decision-making skills that can be applied easily to address workplace issues resulting in effective protocols and strategies.


Education has a formidable challenge ahead as most of these five skills emanate most successfully when they are included in experiential learning, laboratory, internship and other “hands on” activities.  The best way to learn some of these skills is through engagement in doing them and learning from trial and error.

Individuals possessing these illusive abilities, along with the specific knowledge, skillset and experience deemed essential to the practice of the chosen career will indeed be the most desirable candidates for employment. They will also be the best candidates for any lifelong learning and continuing education that will be forever present in their employment. Time will test how rapidly, efficiently and effectively existing educational structures can be modified to include generate their appearance. The workplace of tomorrow is waiting!

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