Part of the Skills Gap

The Changing Landscape

It used to be that mastery of the 3 R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic) was enough to prepare workers for many jobs. However, executives of U.S. organizations now say it is crucial that students and employees ALSO master the 4 C’s (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity). And this has some support, most recently in an American Management Association (AMA) 2012 Critical Skills Survey that found nearly 75% of managers and executives who responded said the 4 Cs are becoming increasingly important skills.

The majority of survey participants indicated that the 4 Cs are already priorities for employee development, talent management, and succession planning, and that employees are evaluated on their mastery of those skills during performance appraisals. However, the survey also identified a gap between the skills that employees possess and the skills their employers want them to have—with more than half of survey participants indicating that their organizations could improve in the 4 Cs. In fact, 62% of executives said the majority of their workforce is average or below average in communication skills, 61% thought creativity, 52% thought collaboration, and 49% thought critical thinking.

That’s not surprising when you consider the evolving patterns in American business culture and the circumstances that are changing the way people work. Technology plays a bigger role every day, layers of management have disappeared in order to speed processes, the pace of change in business has increased, and overall we’re expecting more from people at more levels of an organization

What It Means

Interview questions and process get trickier. Potential employers asking questions that determine how well you can read and comprehend, do math, and write are pretty straight forward. However, questions that get to how well you work with others and how you solve problems are much harder. Therefore, it’s important to think about how you might answer specific interview questions in order to both recognize and adequately address the (unasked) question within the question.

To get help with that there are any number of interview-help tools you can find via a simple web search, but a few I’d recommend are USDOL’s CareerOneStop and TWC’s Job Hunter’s Guide. And, for those wanting extra credit, you might even consider niche brain-training sites like Lumosity. I don’t know if they actually train your brain, but the activities they run you through do make you use your brain differently which goes directly to creativity and critical thinking/problem solving so…maybe there is something to it.

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