More Robots Mean 120 Million Workers Need to be Retrained

More than 120 million workers globally will need retraining in the next three years due to artificial intelligence’s impact on jobs, according to an IBM survey.

That’s a top concern for many employers who say talent shortage is one of the greatest threats to their organizations today. And the training required these days is longer than it used to be -- workers need 36 days of training to close a skills gap versus three days in 2014, IBM notes in the survey.

Soft Skills

Some skills take longer to develop because they are either more behavioral in nature like teamwork and communication or highly technical, such as data science capabilities.

Behavioral skills, such as the ability to work well on a team, communication, creativity, and empathy are best developed through experience rather than structured learning programs like a webinar.

When employers say they’re facing a skills shortage, the first thing that comes to mind is coding experience or another advanced technical skill set. Yet, today, employers are calling for more emphasis on soft skills like communication skills, ethics and creativity rather than technical, a switch over the last few years, the survey notes. Behavioral skills are now seen as critical from digital and technical capabilities.

It’s Time for a C-Level Role Dedicated to Reskilling Workers

Although corporate leaders have talked about skills gaps for years, the spread of automation and artificial intelligence is prompting some of the biggest companies — including Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, SAP, Walmart, and AT&T, to name just a few — to take action, not with small pilots but with comprehensive plans to retrain large segments of their workforces. These programs signal that the “future of work” is no longer an event on the distant horizon. It’s already here.

As intelligent machines take over many physical, repetitive, or basic cognitive tasks, the work that remains will involve both more technical and digital skills and more personal interaction, creativity, and judgment. The rising premium on these skills means that companies may not always be able to hire the talent they need to execute growth strategies. Increasingly, they need to develop talent from within. This approach helps organizations gain new capabilities while preserving in-house functional knowledge, experience, and understanding of company culture.

How Learning Can Catch Up With Technological Change

As I meet with senior executives around the globe, one concern haunts them more than any other: the deficit in the leadership talent necessary for their companies to compete in today’s highly dynamic, uncertain, and volatile world. Organizations of all stripes are increasingly realizing that the education system that propelled their success in the past is failing to produce the entrepreneurial and collaborative problem-solving talent necessary to thrive in the future. 

Ten years ago, who would have imagined that jobs like “drone operator,” “virtual reality producer,” or “machine learning engineer” would have existed? The growing influence and efficacy of artificial intelligence, digitization, and automation means that the pace of such change is getting faster and faster. 

Unfortunately, conventional universities are not keeping pace with this rapidly evolving future of work. Many are based on traditions that were established almost a thousand years ago, when universities were first created. A lot has changed since then.

To Coach Junior Employees, Start with 4 Conversations

Career coaching is crucial for recent college graduates and young people entering the workforce. Though many have scant experience, they’re making choices that will affect their lives long into the future.

Over the course of our work, my colleagues and I gathered records of more than 100,000 coaching conversations to uncover the kind of guidance young employees need most. We studied conversations focused on the issues that employees struggle with most, and discovered four knowledge gaps that arise time and again:

  • How to build resilience: the ability to bounce back from setbacks, such as an early project gone wrong or a bombed presentation

  • How to influence others: the ability to win others’ trust and respect in order to more effectively execute a role

  • How to job craft: the ability to determine what constitutes a meaningful job and engineer a career for greater fulfillment

  • How to break out of a mental rut: the ability to challenge personal patterns of thinking in order to identify and solve problems through a different lens

Though all of these skills are vital, each requires a slightly different conversation…

How To Use Your Strengths To Overcome Your Weaknesses

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Being reminded of our weaknesses is unpleasant. Therefore, we learn to avoid tasks that require skills that we think of as weaknesses. This avoidance can cause problems and hold you back.  

For example, if you don’t see yourself as good at networking, you’ll likely avoid it. The more you avoid it, the harder it becomes. When you've avoided something for a long time, your skills won't be as good as someone who has regularly practiced. Therefore weaknesses can seem more pronounced over time. You can end up feeling embarrassed by them.

What’s the solution?

A fun option to overcome a weakness is to find a new way to approach it that utilizes one of your core strengths. As per the earlier example, let’s say your weakness is networking. However, two of your strengths are being methodical and conscientious.  You could look for a way to approach networking that uses your conscientiousness. Your solution could be something like methodically following up with a thank you email, note or text message when a coworker has helped you, or a contractor has done a good job. You’re then essentially redefining the activity not as a “networking” activity but as a “conscientiousness” activity….

5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success

Mark was always one of the smartest kids in his class. He’s done well in his career, but when he checks Facebook, he sees people he outperformed at school who have now achieved more. Likewise, there are colleagues at his firm who have leapfrogged him. Sometimes he wonders, “What am I doing wrong?”

Sound familiar? You might relate to Mark yourself, or have an employee or loved one who struggles with similar feelings. Raw intelligence is undoubtedly a huge asset, but it isn’t everything. And sometimes, when intellectually gifted people don’t achieve as much as they’d like to, it’s because they’re subtly undermining themselves. If you’re in this situation, the good news is that when you understand these foibles you can turn them around. Here are five I’ve seen smart people particularly struggle with:

1. Smart people sometimes devalue other skills, like relationship building, and over-concentrate on intellect. Very smart people sometimes see their success as inevitable because of their intellect, and don’t see other skills as important. For example, an individual who finds workplace diplomacy difficult might write this off as an irritation rather than as a core skill required for their role. Similarly, they might see it as critical for a secretary to be personable, but not an executive. Therefore they don’t invest time and effort in developing these skills.

But in most workplaces, you need more than raw intelligence to get ahead. And only focusing on your greatest strength, rather than also addressing your weaknesses, tends to be self-sabotaging…

Great Leaders Are Confident, Connected, Committed, and Courageous

No matter your age, your role, your position, your title, your profession, or your status, to get your most important work done, you have to have hard conversations, create accountability, and inspire action.

In order to do that, you need to show up powerfully and magnetically in a way that attracts people to trust you, follow you, and commit to putting 100% of their effort into a larger purpose, something bigger than all of you. You need to care about others and connect with them in such a way that they feel your care. You need to speak persuasively — in a way that’s clear, direct, and honest and that reflects your care — while listening with openness, compassion, and love. Even when being challenged.

In 25 years of working with leaders to do all the above, I have found a pattern that I share in my new book, Leading with Emotional Courage, consisting of four essential elements that all great leaders rely on to rally people to accomplish what’s important to them. To lead effectively — really, to live effectively — you must be confident in yourself, connected to others, committed to purpose, and emotionally courageous.

Most of us are great at only one of the four. Maybe two. But to be a powerful presence — to inspire action — you need to excel at all four simultaneously…

8 Entrepreneurial Skills Your Kids Need to Succeed in Life and Work

Think back to what what you learned in school 10 (or 20) years ago. How much of it still directly applies to what you're doing now?

Most of the skills required for my present-day job weren't taught in school. They're either tactical skills I learned on my own or characteristics that I adapted from my parents' own approaches.

I wish I could say all the projects and courses I completed throughout my many years of school had a direct correlation to my current career path. The truth is, systematized education played only a small role in determining who I've become and what I'm doing today.

Most educators don’t teach the skills or emphasize the qualities needed to grow into an entrepreneurial role. As a parent, though, you have an opportunity to shape your child into a person who can face any challenge.

Here are eight skills you should teach your children to prepare them for the future they'll one day create for themselves.

Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ When You're Trying To Become Successful

It turns out that intelligence might not be the best indicator of future success. According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, the secret to outstanding achievement isn’t talent. Instead, it’s a special blend of persistence and passion that she calls “grit.”

Duckworth has spent years studying people, trying to understand what it is that makes high achievers so successful. And what she found surprised even her. It wasn’t SAT scores. It wasn’t IQ scores. It wasn’t even a degree from a top-ranking business school that turned out to be the best predictor of success. “It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special,” Duckworth said. “In a word, they had grit.”

What her research demonstrated is that it wasn’t natural talent that made the biggest difference in who was highly successful and who wasn’t – it was more about effort than IQ. Duckworth even came up with two equations she uses to explain this concept:

Talent x effort = skill

Skill x effort = achievement

“Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them,” Duckworth explained.

As you can see from the equations, effort counts twice. That’s why IQ and SAT scores aren’t a good indicator of someone’s future success. It’s because those scores are missing the most important part of the equation – the person’s effort level…

Soft Skills Every Developer Should Have

A few weeks ago, I interviewed someone who wants to become a developer. He was concerned about the fact that he wasn't good enough technically and that he will never be. "What makes a great developer in your opinion?" he asked me. I answered briefly: "A great developer must have technical skills, it's undeniable. But what really makes you great are your soft skills".

This answer surprised him. And it may surprise some of you. But I insist: soft skills are important, more important than technical skills. Because once you get the right soft skills, technical skills come naturally. Let's see which skills and why…

We Tell Our Kids That Hard Work Always Pays Off. What Happens When They Fail Anyway?

A star athlete at the college where I work recently stopped by my office. After committing a few unforced errors during a weekend match, she was — several days later — riven by self-criticism and distracted on the field.

“I can’t stop beating myself up,” she told me. “I’m at peak fitness, and I practice hard. How is this happening?”

This student, like many I teach, believes she should be able to control the outcomes of her life by virtue of her hard work. It’s a mentality verging on invincibility: a sense that all-nighters in the library, a jam-packed calendar and hours on the field should get her exactly where she needs to go in life. Nothing can stop me but myself.

I study and write about resilience in young adults, and I’m noticing a troubling spike in students like this athlete. Their faith in their own sweat equity confers a kind of contingent confidence: when they win, they feel powerful and smart. Success confirms their mindset.

The problem comes when these students fail. When they fall short of what they imagine they should accomplish, they are crushed by self-blame. If my accomplishments are mine to control, they reason, my failures must be entirely my fault, too. Failing must mean I am incapable, and maybe will be forever. This makes it incredibly difficult for students to move on.

We talk often about young adults struggling with failure because their parents have protected them from discomfort. But there is something else at play here among the most privileged kids in particular: a message transmitted to them by doting parents who have falsely promised them that they can achieve anything if they are willing to work for it.

Instead of allowing our kids to beat themselves up when things don’t go their way, we might all pause to question a culture that has taught them that being anything less than overwhelmed is lazy, that how they perform for others is more important than what actually inspires them and that where they go to college matters more than the kind of person they are.

The point is not to give our kids a pass on working hard and doing their best. But fantasizing that they can control everything is not really resilience. We are harming our children by implying that they can bend life to their will, and as students walk across commencement stages this year, we would be wise to remind them that life has a way of sucker-punching us when we least expect it. It’s often the people who learn to say “stuff happens” who get up the fastest.

What Kids Need to Learn to Succeed in 2050: The art of reinvention will be the most critical skill of this century

So, what should we be teaching? Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching “the four Cs” — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. More broadly, they believe, schools should downplay technical skills and emphasize general-purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, learn new things, and preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations. To keep up with the world of 2050, you will need to do more than merely invent new ideas and products, but above all, reinvent yourself again and again.

Reimagining Education Together

A survey run for Big Change has shown why the education system must change with a staggering seven in 10 teachers saying schools must prepare students for more than just exams. This is echoed by parents, with half saying they want schools to focus on more than passing tests.  

The survey overwhelmingly shows that there is a huge appetite for change and the report shows examples of how we can do it. It is full of examples of trail blazers from around the world who have dared to ‘be the change’ in education, who look at the whole child rather than list of grades. 

At Big Change we believe this can’t be achieved in an education system so fixated on standardised testing, grade-point-average, prescriptive lesson plans, copy-and-paste criteria sheets and statistics.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost sight of the human touch when it comes to educating our young people. We need to nurture students, embrace their natural curiosity and recognise their individuality. We need a seismic shift throughout the entire learning ecosystem….

How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure

Why, all of a sudden, are so many successful business leaders urging their companies and colleagues to make more mistakes and embrace more failures?

In May, right after he became CEO of Coca-Cola Co., James Quincey called upon rank-and-file managers to get beyond the fear of failure that had dogged the company since the “New Coke” fiasco of so many years ago. “If we’re not making mistakes,” he insisted, “we’re not trying hard enough.”

In June, even as his company was enjoying unparalleled success with its subscribers, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings worried that his fabulously valuable streaming service had too many hit shows and was canceling too few new shows. “Our hit ratio is too high right now,” he told a technology conference. “We have to take more risk…to try more crazy things…we should have a higher cancel rate overall…”

These 4 trends are shaping the future of your job

The hard reality of soft skills

The term “soft skills” hardly does justice to the complex combination of capabilities it describes: empathy, emotional intelligence, creativity, being able to collaborate and communicate, to name but a few.

While they’ve never been the stuff of MBAs and PhDs, soft skills are now more important than ever. So much so that 80% of those surveyed by LinkedIn say they are growing in importance to business success, while 89% highlighted a lack of soft skills among bad hires at their organisation…

Sir Richard Branson: Want to be an entrepreneur? Start at primary school

What does it feel like to own a business? Have they all been a success? What does it feel like to own an island? 

There are, I imagine, few people who could take on the latter question with any degree of knowledge; yet, sitting in front of a room full of primary school entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson seemed happy to take on the challenge. 

It's great, he said, adding: "a business is simply coming up with an idea to improve other people’s lives and, hopefully, when you have done that, more money will come in than goes out.”

Michael Mercieca, CEO of Young Enterprise, also highlighted the importance of introducing enterprise skills to pupils: "Research shows that if you are trying to instill in pupils certain behaviours or attitudes, the earlier you start the better. The employment and life skills developed through an enterprise education are really important and beneficial to all pupils. 

"Young Enterprise research suggests that over 70 per cent of employers say that entry level applicants do not have the necessary employment skills," he continued. "These are the skills that pupils should be developing throughout their education career."

Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream

Life is becoming increasingly less predictable. From the political volatility to the vast societal changes of globalisation, drastic, seismic change is in the air.

While unpredictability is already problematic for many, for future generations there are no signs of things calming. If we accept that the role of education is to furnish our children with the best understanding, skills and values for a prosperous and happy life, then how do we arm them for a future that we can’t imagine? Do we even need knowledge in a world of Alexa and Siri? Is the skill of agility now more valuable than the gaining of knowledge?

Hiring: Grades matter but other factors vital

Companies are still drawn to good grades as these are a strong sign of a prospective employee's capability, leading employers told students..But other factors, such as how candidates work under pressure, are increasingly being considered in the hiring process.

In a five-minute speech on the same topic, Singapore Management University undergraduate Tan Xin Hao said: "Titles come and go, but there's no substitute for values... which cannot be picked up within the four walls of a classroom.

"Would you prefer a second-class honours graduate with stellar leadership experience, or a first-class who has no heart to groom the next generation?"

NUS to take in more poly grads with entrepreneurial abilities

NUS, which runs a programme to nurture entrepreneurs in different business nodes of the world, has asked the five polytechnics to each nominate up to 40 students. These include those who have displayed a strong entrepreneurial inclination during their diploma studies as well as students who have participated in programmes that are related to entrepreneurship…students who enjoy what they are learning tend to be more motivated and are more likely to do well and, at NUS, the faculty constantly looks at ways to encourage students to embrace lifelong learning and pursue their passions.