Brain power

Developing non-academic skills in the future of work

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

The potential impact of AI and other technologies on the labor market has been a constant source of discussion in recent years. Most attempts to understand the impact advocate an investment in skills so that people can adapt, both to better work alongside the new technologies, and to do new things if their jobs are replaced by technology.

There can be a tendency to view these skills purely in terms of academic knowledge and qualifications, with the likes of MOOCs allowing universities to deliver such training at scale.

With technology more likely to disrupt non-academic skills however, there is likely to be as big a need for more vocational skills training.

The importance of non-academic skills was highlighted in a recent paper produced by the UK parliament research facility. It reveals that non-academic skills very much exist alongside their academic brethren, but they are nonetheless vital and have been proven to have a positive impact across work, health and education.

Non-academic skills

So what are non-academic skills? The paper suggests that they typically include things such as attitudes and values, social and emotional skills, creative skills, and metacognitive skills. These skills often overlap and interact with each other, which can make isolating them difficult. They are nonetheless associated with a wide range of beneficial outcomes, including increased empathy, positive self-image and lower levels of anti-social behaviour.

“Proficiency in non-academic skills (in particular, self-belief, motivation, and resilience) is associated with positive life outcomes, including improved academic attainment, employability, wellbeing, and physical and mental health,” the authors say.

Improving these non-academic skills can be difficult though as it’s hard to isolate both the skills themselves, and the effects of any programs designed to improve them from the plethora of other factors that may influence the skills.

Nonetheless, the research to date suggests that such skills can be taught effectively, with early years tuition often the most effective.

“Evidence suggests that non-academic skills are most effectively developed when schools adopt a ‘whole school’ approach, which includes classroom-based interventions, teacher training, embedding skills into school ethos, and engaging parents and the community,” the report says.

They can, however, also be developed in non-school environments, including, for instance via work experience or extra-curricular activities. These are often denied children from poorer backgrounds however, which can disadvantage them. The authors are clear as to the benefits however, and urge action to ensure all people have the chance to develop non-academic skills.

Article source: Developing Non-Academic Skills In The Future Of Work.

Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and Work.com, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

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