The workplace today is considerably more complex than that of 5-10 years ago, when some of you were entering, or were already well into your career. I am sure we can all relate to the fact that the technology readily available and relied upon has advanced, the competition has changed, and the kinds of skills required to do your job has not only increased, but has also expanded in breadth as well. Some examples:
- Development of information technology systems (Dev) and operations of them (ops) used to be two distinct areas, wherein there was little contact between the two outside of the handoff when implemented. Today, with the agile approach of cross-functional teams, there is much more of an integrated Dev-Ops approach, which depends very much on “soft skills”—such as team work, collaboration, negotiating, and situational leadership. This requires the former ‘Dev People’ to have a better understanding of the Ops side, and the ‘Ops People’ to have a better understanding of the Dev side.
- Marketing organizations have become much flatter. The ‘creatives’ need to learn new quantitative analysis tools to sift through all of the data that is now available to make more informed decisions.
- Much more communication happens over email, which requires individuals throughout the organization to have superior writing skills. Words really do count!
- Communication has also become much more permission-based. Communication via email, texting, and utilization of the many asynchronous social media applications (e.g., Snapchat, Instagram, and others) are self-directed. Phone conversations and person-to-person dialogue does not occur as much. This change in communication protocols, coupled with the heavy reliance on the technology associated with different sales tools, has created a tremendous gap in the skill sets required for sales organizations.
One could cite many more examples where, as a professional, you have been trained in a certain set of skills, yet your job requires you to integrate new skill sets to perform successfully and provide you with job satisfaction. Or, perhaps more relevant to you, a new career has emerged that you would like to transition into that leverages the skills you already have. In both of these situations, you can accomplish your goals through continuing education.
Peter McAliney, Ph.D, is Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Education at Montclair State University, the second largest public university in New Jersey. At Montclair State, McAliney is working with the private sector, professional organizations, and his colleagues in the academy to equip an increasingly diverse workforce to acquire the skills and develop an appreciation for lifelong learning they will need to support their career success.