21st Century Employability Skills – Your Success in the Future Job Market

During last 10 years, I have been involved in the recruitment process dealing with the initial selection of candidates and then conducting interviews towards the end of the process. It was an excellent experience, and I am happy to say that I have managed to build the successful and functional teams. It did not happen immediately, it took some time to find correct ways how to deal with the potential employees

21st century employability skills – importance for the employers

I have learned that the fantastic CVs, feedback received from former managers and colleagues can’t be considered as reliable sources of information. When recruiting a new team member, the technical skills and subject-matter expertise are scrutinized properly – this is the easiest part of the process. The toughest part is to evaluate soft skills which define person’s ability to work effectively with the team, person’s initiative, positive attitude, accuracy, tolerance, and communication skills – characteristics which employers want to see in their employees.

Unfortunately, team building does not happen automatically and immediately, and it usually requires serious targeted efforts from the employer through the entire team’s life cycle. Based on my experience, I have noticed that young employees have better communication skills, more supportive and helpful. They are better prepared in terms of critical thinking and problem-solving. Nevertheless, regarding employability skills – the gap between employers’ expectations and the real level of skills is still substantial.

It is very important to know that is the 21st century employability skills and what needs to be done to help potential job seekers to succeed in the modern job market.

What skills do employers need most?

Actually, the ideal employee must have 3 categories of skills:

  • Foundational literacy:
    • Numeracy;
    • ICT literacy;
    • Cultural literacy;
    • Financial literacy;
    • Scientific literacy;
  • Work-related competencies:
    • Critical thinking;
    • Problem-solving;
    • Creativity;
    • Communication;
    • Collaboration;
  • Character qualities:
    • Curiosity
    • Initiative
    • Persistence
    • Flexibility and adaptability,
    • Leadership
    • Social and cultural awareness

Obviously, we can’t be expected that freshly graduated new employee will be able to demonstrate all these skills upon employment. What is expected of a new employee is the motivation for constant self-development and readiness for lifelong learning.

And if we shorten the above list, the prioritized list of 21st century employability skills includes the following:

  • Problem-solving;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Creativity;
  • Teamwork, coordination, and cooperation;
  • Emotional Intelligence;
  • Judgment and decision-making.
    These 6 skills define an employee who can contribute effectively to company’s success and supportive work environment which promotes creativity and innovation

Expected changes in the job market

First of all, there will be job losses because of massive technology intervention into major industry and service sectors, and as a result, some jobs will be overtaken by robotized devices with artificial intelligence solutions embedded.

Secondary, those young people who are entering Higher Education now, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills will have a certain advantage at the starting point of the career. But they must be prepared to learn new things constantly and adjust their specializations throughout their professional life.

Currently, there are 3 categories of jobs which are considered as Top Jobs in the future market:

  • Data analysts which are needed in every company to help with cleansing and processing zettabytes of data;
  • Specialized sales representatives to help companies to promote their new offerings to customers applying new methods of marketing and commerce solutions;
  • The new category of Senior Managers – those who will be leading companies through changes caused by technology.

Despite expected massive job loses, it will be difficult to fill the vacancies by recruiting people with the correct job skills. It is expected that there will be a big deficit of modern job skills if educational approaches and methodologies will stay unchanged. Currently, the educational sector is not ready to face the changes.

People with the modern skills will face the necessity to constantly upgrade the skillset. Technology impact will shorten skills’ lifetime causing necessity for re-skilling and re-training. Not to forget – strong employability skills must supplement technical skillset.

I would like to point out that expected changes in the job market require strong and decisive actions today by all stakeholders: education, businesses, governments, and employees. Otherwise, the certain groups of people will be facing jobless future:

  • Lower skilled positions might be lost because of automation and robotization and people will not have chances for upgrading and re-training – their jobs will be gone, and getting new skills and find a new – will require some time;
  • Current university and college graduates will face employment problems because of lack of employability skills;
  • Young people will not have many chances for work experience since such jobs as retail, admin, customer support, security will be highly affected by technology in the future.

This all is about the necessity to change our mindset towards lifelong learning and constant adjustment to the job market needs.

It requires:

  • Businesses – to play more active role in talent development,
  • Government – to lead changes in the educational sector to reflect the needs of job market;
  • People – to take more responsibility for our own education and training

Looking for the solution to soften the impact of technology on job market

There are several recommendations which can be adopted by organizations to reduce the harmful impact of technologies on the job market:

  • Provide businesses with modern training tools which are accessible to all employees, flexible, relevant to the learning needs;
  • Implement and support a demand-led approach to skill development and allow businesses to access training tools which meet their business needs;
  • Support online training course developers and providers;
  • Encourage low-skilled employees to invest in new skill development and qualifications:
    • Offering free training programs;
    • Giving paid time off for training;
    • Assist with finding the best training tools and content;
  • Create professional networks to support employees in terms of professional development;
  • Identify skills priority areas and provide special targeted support for its development;
  • Recommend the revision of educations programs and include employability skills development in the programs’ curriculum.


It is practically impossible to predict how the job market will change in 5-10 years’ time. But the passive approach “wait-and-see” is very dangerous and might cause serious social and economic turmoil. We must follow how economies are adopting technological advances, check job market status, and provide the advice to employees regarding actions to be taken.


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