New study argues “human skills” essential for employability

RBC Royal Bank has a 10 year project and a $500 million commitment to helping youth prepare for the workplace of the future. As part of this project, they recently released a study titled “Humans wanted; How Canadian youth can thrive in the age of disruption.” The general gist is that AI is and will continue to change many of the jobs that youth are currently preparing for and that therefore efforts and investment is being wasted; it would be much better if there were a focus on developing “human skills” (such as communication, judgement, decision making and critical thinking) will much better equip people to adapt to employment changes and to have long term employability.

We analyzed data on hundreds of different occupations and found that many jobs, even in disparate fields, are connected by a set of foundational skills. We grouped jobs based on similar skills into six clusters. By focusing on the skills required, it is surprisingly easy to pivot between seemingly unconnected roles. Musicians and paramedics might not seem to have a lot in common, but both jobs require high levels of focus, excellent analytical skills and attention to detail. It takes upgrading only four skills for someone to transition from dental assistant to graphic designer.

For those of us in the ESL/EFL industry, the implications are not difficult to see – communicative and functional competence, as well as all the accompanying soft skills (some cultural, some not) are key and should be fully integrated and taught explicitly. Check out the Mind Series and Office Soft Skills as good examples of classroom materials that do just that.

Read more in The Globe and Mail.

Geek out and read the report (or just the summary).