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The Unskilled Of Today Are The Skilled Of Tomorrow

Originally posted: October 22, 2013 on TrishMcFarlane.com

*A great benefit of blogging is meeting industry leaders and sharing and debating ideas.  Today, I’m sharing an article from Felix Wetzel of Jobsite.  Please be sure to give Felix your feedback at the end.  

When I joined Jobsite several years ago, one out of my two people strong team was what generally would be considered unskilled. He had no qualifications & before joining Jobsite as a data entry person, he worked for several years as a waiter in the Army barracks. He was also something of a computer geek, building his own PCs with the main purpose of increasing their performance to have a better gaming experience. This was also the time when companies like Jobsite lived very much on their SEO performance (and Google hadn’t impacted our shores yet). This person took the SEO bit between his teeth and ran with it, until he became one of the best SEOs in the UK. And this case isn’t an exception at Jobsite.

Paul Hart, former manager of Portsmouth Football club (sponsored by Jobsite) and previous to that responsible for the youth development of several football clubs, assessed footballing talent with  a SPIT test: In the order of importance: Speed, personality, intelligence, technique. His rational was as follows: I can teach technique, I can expand your playing intelligence – but personality and speed are a given, they can only be improved marginally and slowly.

Both of these stories have one thing in common – what we considered as skilled and unskilled is an outdated and narrow perspective. In the future, there will be skills required that are beyond our current understanding, and it will require certain characteristics and personalities that are in-built in people. And I’m not talking just about technology roles, such as mobile developers or SEOs, who would have thought that Starbucks would’ve created so many barista positions all over the world?

Recently I wrote several blog posts about the future of work and the main comments focused on not leaving the unskilled behind. I’m actually more worried about leaving the technically-skilled (as in white collared workers) behind – they are often the most complacent, the most rigid and the easiest to be replaced via outsourcing and ultimately automation. That’s why I believe the real in-demand ‘skills’ in the future of work will be creativity and project management.

  • Creativity, as it allows the development of ground breaking, innovative, competitive and unique solutions.
  • Project management, as it transforms creativity into tangible assets

Obviously great contacts and great education (and by this I mean being taught how to be a rounded and self-determined individual and how to think methodically yet radically) are important components.

Like sports clubs, big brands will set up academies to identify the raw talent. The technical skills – as in Paul Hart’s model – will be learned on the job. This is based on the premise that a participant is bright, has the right attitude and aptitude, and can pick up anything. For anybody developing an interest in work, wanting to get into an industry or just purely the workplace, it will be all about freelancing, volunteering and internships.

I started to write for my local newspaper aged 15. We need to get back to the understanding that school is only teaching so much and, here I agree whole-heartedly with Lucian Tarnowski, Founder and CEO of BraveNewTalent.com, neither the current education system nor the current political system are set up to deal with the global changes we are starting to see now and will continue to see in the future.

We need a structural overhaul not only of the system, but also about what and how we think and what and how we label. Much will depend on companies to make a difference. As much will depend on individuals. Let’s drive this change instead of blocking necessary reforms and hiding behind quotes such as ‘leaving the unskilled behind’.

Felix Wetzel is the Group Marketing Director for Jobsite and author of the ‘People, Brands, & Random Thoughts‘ blog.


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