What Skills Are Needed in Workplace?
Young, Doyle, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Doyle Young Special to the Daily Herald
Editor's note: With this issue, we introduce "Workplace Success," a new column focusing on topics that workers can use to improve their skills and careers and managers can use to improve their bottom line. The column is written by Doyle Young, vice president of ACT's Workforce Delivery Division and a noted author and speaker.
You've probably heard the expression. "It's not what you know; it's who you know." There is some truth to this old slogan when it comes to building careers. Networking is an important part of success in a business career.
There is another expression that's probably more important. "It's not what you know; it's what you can do."
It's probably truer today than it ever has been. Study after study shows that the people who have skills go further in the workplace. A college degree is no longer a guarantee of a job. Skills are required, degree or no degree.
Employees are no longer tying their futures to their companies anymore, either. They're tying their futures to their skills.
But what skills should every person possess? ACT researchers set out to find that answer a decade ago. They brought together industry leaders in education, business, and government. After years of research, it was concluded that eight skill areas were most needed in the workplace: applied mathematics, applied technology, listening, locating information, observation, reading for information, teamwork and writing.
Don't most people possess these skills? After all, we learn math, reading and writing in school. But there's a twist on what businesses want today: They want people who can apply these things. The ability to use critical thinking skills to apply knowledge on the job, to creatively handle assignments and problems, is something too many graduates don't learn in class.
Let's take three of the most important skills and break them down.
Applied Mathematics: At the most basic level, employers want workers to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide. But the majority of employers also want their workers to be able to calculate averages, ratios and proportions. …