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Future Skills – for the 21st Century Workplace

Blind_monks_examining_an_elephant.jpgOne of Youth Profit’s goals is to encourage dialogue and strategic thinking between the education, government, private and nonprofit sectors. These systems are like silos, acting like the preferable blind monks assigned to describing what the elephant looks like. The elephant in question is the worldwide crisis of youth unemployment. A crisis exacerbated by the demise of the industrial era and the emergence of the always on, always connected network economy.

Ideally we seek to generate dialogue  between the education, government, non profit and private sectors so that a more integrated youth employment strategy can be developed. We believes that young people are at great risk of being left behind as new skills are needed to succeed in the creative and network economy. This posts is about  the new skills that young people will need to succeed in the 21st Century workplace.

A research report titled Future Work Skills 2020,  published in 2011 by the Institute for the Future – for the University of Phoenix Research Institute could be a starting point to assist youth employment training organizations to develop new training programs that help youth acquire the new skills for workers in the 21st Century workplace.

Harold Jarche, a Canadian and an international  renowned writer and presenter further refines the skills listed in  the Future Skills 2020 report. On his blog, “guiding workplace transformation” Harold chose four skills from the Future Work Skills 2020 report which he felt closely aligned within his Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) framework.

My view is that the four skills Harold identified in his post are skills that are very adaptable and  transferable to youth employment training  initiatives. Some employment training initiatives already are focusing on these skills. Below are  the four skills with Harolds short explanation of the skills.


In my Seek > Sense > Share framework, sense-making is usually the most difficult to master. It takes time and practice to develop routines of critical thinking combined with ways to not just process knowledge but create something new.

Social intelligence comes through sharing our work and interacting with others, some of whom may be on similar knowledge journeys. Finding fellow knowledge seekers can be very helpful and online social networks can make these connections easier to find.


The practice of PKM helps to develop media literacy as you seek knowledge from various networks, try different media tools, use them to communicate and share with others. Knowledge in a networked society is different from what many of us grew up with in the pre-Internet days. While books and journal articles are useful in codifying what we have learnt, knowledge is becoming a negotiated agreement amongst connected people.

Like electricity, knowledge is both particles and current, or stock and flow. The increasing importance of fluid knowledge requires a different perspective on how we think of it and use it. The digital world is bumping against the analog world and we are currently caught in-between.

The only way to navigate this change is collaboratively. Part of cognitive load management is off-loading some of it to our network. No one has the right answer, but together we can explore new models of sense-making and knowledge-sharing. We should find others who are sharing their knowledge flow and in turn contribute our own. PKM is not about being a better digital librarian, or curator, it’s about becoming a participating member of a networked society.

Drivers of Change – resources

Harold Jarche took the six drivers of change listed in the report and added links to examples of each “change driver”. I include this excerpt from his post because I believe those links strongly underscore and further describe the new workplace landscape.

  1. Longevity, in terms of the age of the workforce and customers – Retiring Later
  2. Smart machines, to augment and extend human abilities – Workplace Automation
  3. A computational world, as computer networks connect – Internet of Everything
  4. New media, that pervade every aspect of life – Online Privacy
  5. Superstructed organizations, that scale below or beyond what was previously possible –AirBNB
  6. A globally connected world, with a multitude of local cultures and competition from all directions- Geek Nation

At Youth Profite we aspire to create opportunities for visitors to learn from the content posted on our website. Learning is not enough though. We invite visitors to become contributors to the development of new training initiates by sharing their insights and ideas on youth employment training.

Do you have ideas on how youth training organizations could re-tool it’s processes so some of these new skills could be acquired?

Let us know what you think – good ideas are needed so that we can learn and build new solutions to the complex problem of youth unemployment.

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