Future skills, both “hard and soft” are essential for success in the digital age. A learner who has not acquired these skills before entering the work force will struggle to adapt to the ever-changing employment landscape of the digital age — an age where new skills are required, current jobs no longer exist, and new jobs develop rapidly.
Future Skills, sometimes referred to as 21st Century Skills or “Essential skills” are divided between hard and soft skills
WHAT ARE HARD SKILLS
Hard skills typically fall into two broad categories: CER (Coding, Electronics & Robotics) & STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). The Digital Age will be characterized by communication with humans in English and communication with computers and Artificial Intelligence machines through the language of computer code. Coding, and the computational thinking required to be a successful coder, are certainly essential hard skills for the digital age. Another key hard skill is the understanding of robots and other computers designed to undertake ever more advanced tasks currently done by humans, including computational thinking, creativity, and judgement. Electronics is the digital and physical infrastructure that enables the creation of AI machines, as well as their programming, operation, and control.
WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS
On the other end of the spectrum are Soft Skills. It would be a mistake to think that Soft Skills and Hard Skills reside in different types of people. That mindset belongs to the industrial age or information age. Every coder and orbits expert will also need to acquire these soft skills to survive in the digital age, just as every soft skill expert will need a good understanding of coding and robotics. Surveys of employers consistently show that the most valued employees have a combination of hard and soft skills at their disposal.
So what are these soft skills? The movement to identify the soft skills that should be taught to children in our school system started in the US in the 1990s. The US Government commissioned a group to identify what skills children should learn in school to be successful in the 21st Century. For this reason, the skills became known as 21St Century skills. Since then, many thought leaders, educators and top learning institutions have created their own lists of such skills. WeLearn has studied these various lists and chose to focus on the seven essential skills in the following chart:
What are WeLearn’s 7 Key Soft Skills?
WeLearn’s main goal is to transform all of our students into passionate self-directed learners who have the confidence and skills to benefit from the large and growing universe of online learning. A self-directed learner will understand that it’s acceptable not to know everything they want to know, as long as they are able to identify and pursue what they need in order to achieve their goals. Self-directed learners have the ability to figure out what they want to discover, search out the resources and take the initiative necessary to pursue that knowledge or skill.
Becoming a self-directed learner is at the very heart of all programs at WeLearn. Students develop this skill through an intentional and planned, stepped process designed by WeLearn where they slowly but surely become masters of their own educational destiny. They learn how to manage their time, focus when required, take breaks when necessary, set and achieve long- mid- and short-term goals, and even build their own personal learning pathway. We do this through a combination of individual online learning, collaborative online learning, and collaborative project-based applied learning. Once a student has significant ownership of their learning pathway, their passions will naturally grow and mature under expert guidance from our learning coaches.
WeLearn students will be so proud when they are able to take responsibility for and manage their own learning and take this skill with them through university and the rest of their lives. Their parents will be even more proud. Self-directed students can avoid the high cost of overseas travel, residency, tuition, and accommodation by using their self-directed learning skills to tap into the world of online learning. Many top universities like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford already have online undergraduate and graduate degrees. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, this trend has only accelerated.
WeLearn Students will have the ability to learn and relearn throughout life – a truly essential skill for a successful life in the digital age.
Critical Thinking, Computational Thinking and Problem Solving are essential skills for success in the digital age and for successfully acquiring many of WeLearn’s other Future Skills. Critical thinkers always ask “why,” and are not satisfied with the answer to a question until they fully understand not only what the answer is but why it’s the answer. A good problem solver will be a good entrepreneur. We teach critical thinking in many aspects of our program, especially as part of our Project Based Learning [link to page] and Entrepreneurship [link to below] programs.
WeLearn’s Creative Thinking has a lot more to do with innovation and out-of-the-box thinking than traditional creativity. Of course, being creative is a core trait necessary for innovative thinking. But innovators must also demonstrate considerable curiosity and boundless imagination. These are traits that we cultivate at WeLearn. Great ideas and innovative solutions, no matter the field or career path, are what allow the world to advance. WeLearn students learn how to not only imagine what the future will be like, but how it should be, and then use their other soft and hard skills to make it happen. A vision of what something may look like that differs from the “conventional wisdom” is what allows entire industries to “jump the curve” and truly evolve.
COLLABORATION & LEADERSHIP
Every great leader is also a great follower, and knows the value of working as part of a team, as well as leading that Team. Leaders understand that they don’t need to do everything, and that they can’t be experts at everything, so it’s important to step back and let others shine when their skills and knowledge are needed. WeLearn students will learn to lead by influence and to influence their leaders and teammates.
COMMUNICATION IN ALL FORMS
It doesn’t matter how good an idea is if you can’t let other people know about it in a way that allows them to not only understand, but empathize with your goals for it. Both written and oral communication allow you to tell your story and invite other people to share with you. But these forms of communication are no longer enough. Our students will become expert in all modern forms of communication, video, sound podcasts and broadcasting), and virtual and augmented reality. Use of social media to communicate effectively and make an impact will be an essential part of this training. Being able to create content for these various forms of communication is also an essential skill for WeLearn and for success in the digital age. This is what we mean by communication in all forms.
Entrepreneurship is a skill that encompasses almost all of the other skills. Being a good entrepreneur requires a lot of Self-Direction, thinking innovatively, solving problems, grit, focus and perseverance, leadership and teamwork, being able to communicate with impact and influence and above all empathizing with future customers and those experiencing problems that need to be solved. Entrepreneurship is not really about making money, or building a business or a startup. It can include that, but involves much more. Being able to take an idea and figure out the steps needed to make it happen, then execute is a fundamental skill of any worker in the digital age — in a world where the shape of future careers has yet to reveal itself.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL APTITUDE
What binds all of the other skills together to develop a future-ready learner is the ability to understand not only others but yourself as well. Empathy, metacognition (thinking about your thinking), finding a balance between work and the rest of your life, and the ability to make connections with a diverse range of individuals are the cornerstones of a successful, future-ready individual in the Digital Age. Our social and emotional aptitude includes skills such as empathy, global and digital citizenship, cultural and religious understanding, environmental awareness, and knowing how to interact with others in the digital world.
How Future Skills Are Developed At WeLearn
Every student who goes through WeLearn’s personalized learning ecosystem will not only have acquired such essential future skills, but will know how to use them to solve real world problems. They will be experts at using these skills to take them and their organizations “Beyond Knowledge” [link] They will acquire these skills through our PBL Program [link], our online academic modules [link], and customized courses specifically designed by WeLearn experts to allow our students to acquire hard and soft skills [link].