Skills - the New Currency of Work

Breckon Jones
February 11, 2022
min read
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Skills as Your Identity

Hey folks, Breckon here, Crewmojo advisor, Deloitte HR leader. Skills, skills, skills, skills, skills are now the currency of work, not jobs. There's this great bit of research that got sent to me by my friends over at Mercer this week, talking about this very point, it started off with something that really resonated with me, describing how hundreds of years ago, if your name was, let's say, Benjamin Farmer, very good chance that you and all your family members for several generations had the skills to farmland. Or if your name was Melanie Weaver,  you got it? You probably descended from a long line of people with the technical skills needed to make fabric.

Back then, the emphasis on skills was so strong that it defined you. It defined your name and defined all of your descendants and now skills, especially hot skills for in demand or growing jobs, they're back at centre stage, and in fact, the effect of the pandemic has probably just shown us how important it is to have a skilled workforce who can adapt to the flood of changes that we've all had to face recently. And as a business, you can better deal with volatility if you know that the skills that you want and need are in your workforce, your people have those skills and even better if you know what skills you need for them to have in the future, and what the pandemic has shown is that there isa shortage of skills in many key growth areas, and that's been amplified particularly in Australia, by a lack of overseas migration in the last two years for some sectors, for some professions.

The Skills Taxonomy

I listened to this really good Deloitte podcast this week on work, workforce and workplace experience, and my colleagues in the U.S. who wrote it, their research found that most employers have already identified that skills identification in the workforce, what we might call skills taxonomy, that's right at the very top of the list of must haves. But over 60% of employers say that they have no clue what the skills mix of their workforce actually is, and those that do know well they have mostly categorised those skills into technical capabilities, and what not many have a grasp on in their workforce is what we used to call soft skills.  

Soft Skills and Power Skills

I believe now, more than ever, those types of skills are probably even more important than technical skills. They're harder to learn, but they become even more important in periods of change and disruption to the point where if you want to show an employee that you are truly forward thinking employer and you want to encourage that employee to build their own personal fungibility, and you have the ability to encourage your people to flex and adapt and give them what they need and train them to be able to roll with the punches, then what you need are power skills, and if you can build those power skills, you can go a long way to future proofing your career personally, but employers can also build up that muscle in their workforce, the strength of those power skills.

And what are some of those power skills? Well, it's qualities like teamwork and being able to facilitate team cohesion if you're a people leader, it's problem solving, it's storytelling, it's adaptability, critical and logical thinking in the face of change, it's managing your energy, your personal energy strategically, it's also managing your time efficiently and underpinning all of this is having solid interpersonal skills, those sorts of things that allow you to if you're a coach or a leader to lead with empathy, or to resolve conflict, or to facilitate and bring together and help people to work together if they come from different backgrounds, or if they separated by geography and part of having that high emotional intelligence, those interpersonal skills, is working out the best way not to ruffle more feathers than you need to at work.

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