A recent article in Quartz, entitled LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner says the biggest skills gap in the US is not coding, supports my current work. But I also don’t think it goes far enough.
The article talks about the fact that while coders are in high demand, the greater need employers have is the so-called soft skills such as “written communication, oral communication, team-building, and leadership skills.”
I think this is true, but I also think that it represents a bit of shallow thinking (on the part of employers). I believe that the desire for these skills is somewhat symptomatic, but they speak to the greater need that lies beneath the surface — the need for empathy, creativity, etc..
I just don’t think that most employers have dug beneath the surface enough to get to the root of their needs and the longer-term ramifications of the shifts underway.
In the end, I believe that this is going to shake out into three camps in terms of employable skills. The first will be the technology creators. These are the coders and technologists. These positions will require the long-coveted STEM skills — science, technology, engineering, and math. But while the demand for these skills will continue to increase, these positions will also become hyper-competitive. Only the best-of-the-best need apply.
The second set of employable skills will be human creators. This is the subject of The New Human Age. These will be those with the ability to innovate, create out of thin air, and to relate on a human level. The soft skills the article mentions support these, which is why they’re in demand, but you need to get to the root need. Merely having these soft skills will not be enough.
The last will be those skills that are either service-related or that which can, in fact, be reduced to an algorithm, but are too expensive to do so (at least in the near-term). This will primarily include things that require physical proximity and mobility — not to mention a degree of humanity. Think restaurant servers, hairdressers, plumbers, electricians, etc.
If you want to be employable in the future, you should be working to ensure that your skills fall into one of these three camps.