Europe in My Region

In the future, personal skills will be a priority when companies are recruiting manpower (please also read this blog post). But WHICH personal skills will be in demand? And how can the development of these skills be supported? We look for some of the answers in this blog post.

This is a repost of Den røde tråd til vækst går via ‘personlige kompetencer’, originally published in Danish by Martin Welzelt (@martinwelzel) and Morten Brunø (@Morten_B_B), and submitted to the Europe in My Region 2016 blogging competition.

The acceleration of technological progress, globalization and the development of new types of organization intensifies the need for the right personal skills. Personal skills are increasingly becoming a prerequisite for being able to perform modern work procedures and will provide justification for many people’s continued employment in the face of emerging robot technology (please read our blog post on automation). Pushed to the extreme, you could say that, to a great extent, personal skills will become the prerequisite for being able to use professional skills. But what do we altogether mean by personal skills?

Three key personal skills

Three types of personal skills in particular will be in demand in the future according to The FremKom 3 analysis carried out by COWI for North Denmark Region, January 2016:
Process skills is the ability to recognize connections in work processes at both micro level and macro level. This is, for example, being able to see the importance of your own work in relation to the rest of the work processes of the company. Furthermore, being able to reflect on your own work processes and continuously optimize and develop them, whilst focusing on added value for the company by way of, for example, profit and development of the product or service.
Interpersonal skills is the ability to communicate, establish contacts and create networks both within a company and externally. This is, for example, being able to understand your customers’ or your employees’ situation and having the ability to act on the basis of this understanding in order to create value for the organization. This value could be increased in the form of greater and closer cooperation to solve complex interdisciplinary tasks or to create additional sales to existing customers.
Communication skills involve being able to communicate in a targeted and successful way, both verbally and non-verbally, thus ensuring and creating added value for the organization. This means, for example, having the understanding and ability to use language as a tool to create motivation and understanding for a work process or to facilitate cooperation and co-creation between or with groups of professionals, customers or citizens.

Focus on personal skills in the education system and in business

Personal skills must be supported, developed and reinforced in order to give companies access to skilled workers in the long term. Consequently, the challenge is not solved simply by working towards upgrading unskilled workers to a skilled level and by getting more young people to choose science courses, etc. But how?
The interplay between personal and professional skills is especially reinforced in specific work situations. The education system – at all levels – should increase its focus even further on ensuring and supporting the fact that learning and knowledge arise in actual work situations together with others. Exchange between school education and apprenticeships is a great way of facilitating interaction between professional and personal skills because the professional skills will be used in a real work situation. Cooperation between companies and students is not only a great way of providing companies with new input and the students with relevant study projects. In the long term, it also helps shape and develop personal skills, which can give companies access to the workforce profiles they require.
From a growth perspective, personal skills are not only a focal point for business requirements for the workforce of the future. The personal skills of the employees are one of the most important resources for a company today. What is perhaps even more important is the personal skills of the managers who are taking the companies into the fourth industrial revolution. In the regional business promotion, several projects are currently taking place such as Growth-directed Skills Development (Vaeksthus Copenhagen) and Strategic Skills Development (Business Development Centre – Southern Denmark), both of which focus on the personal skills of managers. Both projects are based on the good experiences of the national project Growth Through Leadership, which in 2012–2014 involved more than 600 small and medium-sized companies. We look forward to following and evaluating the projects and we will, of course, share experiences from these and similar projects here on the blog.


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