July 19, 2018

3 Ways to Shore Up Your Skills for the Digital Age

Paula Sansburn | COO, GreenFig
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Paula Sansburn | COO, GreenFig

Recently, the GreenFig blog featured a post about the growing value of liberal arts-educated workers and why their nontechnical skills, such as writing and communications, are increasingly attractive to tech firms across the country.

Another reason for this is that technological advancements are placing a higher emphasis on automation and artificial intelligence. An Oxford University study found that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being eliminated by automation. This is not a call to freak out that unemployment rates are going to surge or that we will all be reduced to minimum wage service industry jobs. Rather, it is a call to action for both educational institutions and workers to rethink how to enable digital literacy and practical job skills as they prepare for a changing job market.

As the workplace changes rapidly to keep pace with the digital and innovation economy educational systems and workers should focus on learning as a lifelong pursuit – “not an endeavor limited to a few years in early adulthood” – and place greater emphasis on developing a combination of business and technical skills.

That is according to Jeff Selingo, a Washington Post columnist and education researcher featured in a recent EdTech blog post titled: “Lifetime learning is the new model for higher education.”

Based on his own research and the research of others, Selingo delivered a keynote address suggesting that the country’s outdated higher education model is not in step with hiring needs of today’s companies — regardless of industry. He urged stakeholders to rethink how it prepares the American workforce and offered solutions to bridge the skills gap between workers and industry.

Below are some highlights from the speech:   

1. The Soft Skills Gap

Among recent college graduates, there is a persistent gap in soft skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and organization, according to Selingo’s research. These skills are particularly valuable to recruiters and hiring managers given the increasing influence of AI and automation.

“In many ways, the education system we have today is like the workplace of old,” he said. “Punctuality, rote tasks, following an established set of processes — these were once the path to success. But in an environment of rapid, ongoing change, this model no longer works. The modern work world is a mash of activities with no scheduled end.”

He goes on to recommend that the new “lifelong learning” model should emphasize both soft and hard skills to meet the needs of employers.

2. Internships and Real-World Experience Matter

According to Selingo’s research, the primary difference between college graduates who have achieved financial independence and those who have “hit the pause button on professional progress” is internships. Selingo goes on to say that the finding is not surprising since many employers hire individuals who previously interned with them. So why is it worth noting? A student’s ability to find a professional “on-ramp” at some point during their twenties can have a significant impact on future earnings and career trajectories.

3. The New Solution

New programs are emerging which better fit the needs of today’s students, such as “micro master’s degrees” found online and significantly less expensive than traditional higher education models, according to Selingo. How do you gauge an institutions’ effectiveness? Question how many graduates find high-quality jobs and are able to repay student loans, he said.

How GreenFig Can Help

GreenFig is a micro education company which offers microdegrees in the applied business sciences to bridge the gap between higher ed and high demand careers in an accelerated learning format. We provide students with practical experience executing real-world projects, which is why our graduates are attractive to hiring managers. Plus, our students gain a hard-soft skills mix of business strategy, tactics, AND technology so they can more effectively add value to their employers and differentiate themselves from their peers. Students graduate with business science microdegrees – a holistic combination of business, technical and soft skills.

Learn more about our Fall course curriculum. Or, let us know how we can help you achieve your professional goals in the digital-based innovation economy.

Paula Sansburn,

COO

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