New Skills for the Future

Guest Post by: Sreela Banerjee, The Life Skills Network, UK


The Future of Work is Here: more balance, but a wider range of skills.  Are you preparing your children?

The odds are that if you start work in a big organisation today, you will be self-employed sooner or later, whether for the short term, or even, if you choose it, for the long haul. Professor Charles Handy saw this coming in his book ‘The Age of Unreason’ published in 1990, when he predicted that into the new millennium there would be more contingent workers than those working for organizations.

Kelly Services did a survey in 2013 and found that 44% of workers consider themselves to be free agents. That is not counting the 19 million UK sole traders (who were not included in this survey).

The trend didn’t start yesterday – you will already have noticed this happening

Companies several decades ago began to outsource functions like logistics, distribution, and shipping to firms like DHL and UPS. Legal, accounting, and advertising have been outsourced for much longer. Now organizations are realizing big savings from farming out graphic arts to local freelancers; web design to specialists; marketing and sales to third parties; IT to local IT gurus; the Cloud for data and content storage. The larger organisations of course outsource back office functions to a different country altogether. In my MBA days, this was called ‘unbundling’ in marketing class. This trend will undoubtedly continue.

Companies simply do not need the burden of 365-day a year payrolls, new government regulations, training, managing, and providing benefits for these services – when outside experts in each field can do a more cost-effective job.

Universities are still largely failing to help our children prepare for what is most likely waiting for them

Most of my friends have college age children. I gather from them, that many career centres do a woefully inadequate job of preparing students for the “new” real-world challenges of finding internships and work placements.

Important skills like collaboration and networking are not meaningfully conveyed to students: they should be well on the way of developing life-long networks of fellow classmates, professors, sports team participants, family and parents’ professional contacts, etc. before graduation.

Social media needs to be understood and mastered for its power to broaden research, connections, and the ability to find and apply for jobs. 

Keywords and how they link to finding work

Already these new entrants are finding that they need to be focused to perfectly match the job requirements posted by employers.

The application needs to be ‘rich in keywords’ to pass through screening software and make it to human eyes. ( A new course from the LSN, Get your CV seen by a Human gives insights into how best to do this. Imagine someone guiding us through this process – really helpful to learn how the sifting and sorting happens, what the employer sees, and how they shortlist.)

Traditionally, you graduated from college with some relevant course work and went to work for a company, which trained you for the specific job they needed to fill. While forward-thinking organizations give recurrent training, many now believe they can find the right person to start on day one, and hit the road running. Younger children are finding it all too difficult to get a chance, because there is a market perception that they lack life skills.

But many of us start our freelancing, more entrepreneurial, more direct in our engagement with the marketplace.

Finding work today needs an emerging set of core skills.

The job market reflects the new trends – here is how our children are typically approaching their beginning of their working lives

    1. first acquire some in-demand skill hopefully mastered at college or as an intern getting work experience (The transition from education into the workplace is a new course helping young people to get an overview of how to think inside an organisation, while at an internship)
    2. brand yourself,
    3. do a bit of research into the organizations who need those skills,


  • market yourself, and get that interview. Turn Your Phone Off and Arrive Five to 10 Minutes Early – ace the interview


  1. negotiate a contract that makes financial sense for you,
  2. ‘close the sale’ and start work.

Make sure that you don’t make the basic internet related mistakes that will get you laughed at in the workplace, and lose credibility fast. (here is a Basic Internet Savvy course made by the Life Skills Network, which takes care of the obvious errors you should avoid.)

What happens in the background, as you work?

  • You have to account for your time,
  • As you start earning you need to make provisions for tax payments,
  • provide your own healthcare – nobody plans to pay you if you get ill
  • start your own retirement plan.
  • Not only do you have to run your new business, you must juggle effectively.

That means you need to actively network and do research to find your next job, and market yourself to the new organisation, without missing the deadline on your current workload.

Otherwise there will be a gap in income, something else you need to plan for.

The global skills set is changing, and we are already seeing how that is changing the workplace. 

The question is, are we preparing our children for what the market place is likely to hold for them?


Courses available at


References :—the-new-balance-emea-and-apac2/