Monday, June 24, 2013

Work place readiness skills

You have to love Yahoo! for its insightful and incisive news. Okay, maybe not, but I do commend them as an aggregator of some interesting, even useful, news.

The story that caught my eye is "4 workplace skills you need right now." From a writing perspective, that's a deliciously provocative headline designed to do what it did: get my attention. As for the skills, well, they're kind of interesting.

The first skill listed is coding. Because it's first, one might assume it's the most important and/or valuable. As a former computer programmer and systems analyst, I had to raise my eyebrows at that one. But I read further and thought more reflectively and critically as I read, good Common Core skills, by the way. Because of our increasingly digital dependence, I suppose knowing how to code in HTML makes sense or at least being familiar with HTML, what it does, what it can do, where and how it's used now. I suppose I'd go a bit further to make sure individuals had a passing knowledge and understanding of XML as well as Java because of their ubiquitousness in our digital world.

The second skill listed is data literacy. We've talked about data in education for a very long time. For several years one of our prime directives seemed to be data-driven decision-making. Every PD company worth its salt made sure to offer something related to data-driven decision-making. Educators at all levels learned to aggregate and disaggregate data and oh how we gathered data! But part of data literacy is knowing what data you need. Figuring out how to gather it, report it, and analyze it--to find the signal in the noise--are completely different components of data literacy.

The third skill is social media savvy, which should come as no surprise to anyone who hasn't been living in a cave for the past several years. That savvy means being aware of the trendy new social media outlets that are more than fads--those channels that seem to have some reach and staying power: Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Learnist, and dozens if not hundred of others make social media savviness a challenge.

The last skill is empathy, and this one is not to be underrated. I can offer the best possible service and skills, I may know more than anyone else about a particular thing, but if I don't have any empathy for the people with whom I'm working, I'm not going to be effective. No way, no how. Personally, I think this is a shadow side of social media savvy because there are plenty of folks who are personable and affable on social media but have too few or no personal relationship skills.

I completed a survey the other day and a lot of the questions were related to how well I connected to others, what I think is important in a leader, if I believe myself to be a good listener, if I think it is more important to be respectful or collegial or some other things with colleagues, etc. So many of those skills are related to empathy and yes, there's a lot to be said about the value of empathy in the work place.

For those of us in the business of thinking about what it means to be college and career ready, these skills are something to consider. Perhaps not in a direct sense--I don't recommend we all go out to learn how to code. But I do recommend that we consider being mindful of some of these possible technological and collegial shifts and expectations.

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