DEVELOPING SKILL AGILITY AND TRANSFERABILITY

Tied for the most frequent trend observed in this rapid review was the notion of employees needing to develop skill agility or transferability. This trend was touched upon in 23 of the 32 reports reviewed (72%). One of the primary drivers associated with the need for skill agility is the digital skills gap9. Although the causes for the skills gap are complex, employers are currently reporting gaps between the skills that educational institutions are producing in the talent pipeline, and what their organization needs. Therefore, there is an increasing need to develop talent with skill agility – applying skills in diverse settings and flexible ways 9,30. There is also increasing discussion around a need from employers and organizations for employees who have complementary, and sometimes unusual combinations of skills (i.e., marketing professionals requiring both creativity and statistical analysis, or software engineers requiring both visual design and teamwork skills). These are being termed “hybrid roles”9.

One of the primary drivers associated with the need for skill agility is the digital skills gap9. Although the causes for the skills gap are complex, employers are currently reporting gaps between the skills that educational institutions are producing in the talent pipeline, and what their organization needs.

These challenges may be mitigated in a variety of ways, including more inclusive hiring, and hiring individuals with the requisite “soft skills” with the intention of training them on the technical or digital skills using third-party training programs9. That said, many employers are beginning to place less value on credentials and more values on skills (as highlighted through portfolios, work experience, etc.). A great way to develop and exercise skill agility is for students to experience WIL opportunities where they can take the skills they have developed through academic and co-curricular experiences and apply them in a variety of workplace projects or settings. There, they can continue to develop new skills and enhance existing ones, which they can bring back into the classroom. Therefore, through WIL opportunities, students learn to apply their skills in ways that employers desire and learn which non-technical skills are required in their particular industry. There are also opportunities for WIL students to develop more non-technical skills in parallel with the technical skills required for their industry through reflective learning curriculum, as mentioned previously. Furthermore, understanding which skills are most important and how they can be implemented in different contexts via skills inventories or competency frameworks (e.g., Future Ready Talent Framework) may help WIL students become even more agile.

REFERENCES | WORK-LEARN INSTITUTE

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