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Skills and Attributes

21st Century Skills

21st Century graduates need a lot more skills and attributes to thrive in the careers than in the past. The World Economic Forum identify 16 skills that all students will need by the time they graduate from secondary school, and the learning in these areas will be lifelong. 

Currently, a new revolution is taking place. According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2020 automation, robotization and digitization are driving the need for new skills in the workplace. From 2018 to 2025, the machine: human division of labour ratio is predicted to increase from 29% machine to 52% machine in seven years. While a net increase if in jobs is predicted, a significant shift in the skills required in the world of work is also anticipated. The following table outlines the skills most likely to grow and decline in demand by 2022. 


Attributes vs Skills

Notice that any of the skills growing in demand are complex and could just as easily be described in the terms typically used to describe attributes (e.g. analytical, innovative, creative, influential, emotionally intelligent etc.) Employers today are as interested in attributes (who people are) as skills (what they can do) partly because the nature of what they will expected to do is likely to change dramatically. 

Against these job market developments, it’s interesting to notice that many universities have defined the attributes to be fostered in their students by graduation, including UCC through the Graduate Attributes Programme.

It is also interesting to note how many of the skills set to grow in the demand are what as referred to as “human” skills such as: 

  • creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation 
  • resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving 
  • emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence 

So how can you set out to ensure that you develop – and can demonstrate that you’ve developed – these critical skills and attributes? 

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Seirbhísí Gairme COC