Are you ready for this big change?

According to the Financial Times, corporates are increasingly looking for new signals to improve the success rates in hiring their future workers:

Moreover, employers such as Ernst & Young are changing the way they seek to identify future hires:

These are two telltale signs of the new hiring must-haves — and where labor markets are heading.

The new economy is about skills

Enter the skills economy where business seeks out people who can do great work, work well with others, produce meaningful results, and create lasting value.

In this new economy, employers are looking for ‘honest signals’ that tell, credibly, what one can do and how well one will perform. (If you’ve got time, check out MIT Sandy Pentland’s video.)

Skills are those honest signals that correlate most strongly with future performance and productivity. This is why the skills economy operates on the basis of a whole new currency that quantifies, and uses, people’s skills as the new global unit of value.

This structural shift is the result of businesses reckoning that old school ‘qualifications’ are not correlated with on-the-job performance and business value creation.

In this new economy, people will invest in developing, building, demonstrating and certifying their skills; while businesses will seek out and hire people with varying skill portfolios.

The new currency is superskills and microskills

The market uses various terms to describe skills (eg, abilities, skills, competencies, soft skills, work skills, hard skills, etc.). It’s time to sort this out and use a simpler vernacular going forward.

As we see it, skills include two types of skills: superskills and microskills.

Superskills are the “components” that make up the unique “operating system” of a person. These include, but not limited to, problem solving, critical thinking, quantitative thinking, creativity, listening, communication, change agility, perseverance, motivation, willingness to learn, curiosity, coachability, social skills, leadership, risk-tolerance, and working in teams.

Microskills are the “apps” that the person “runs” (or could run) on their unique superskills “operating system.” These are the things a person can do really well (or learn to do), given their unique superskills footprint. Microskills can include graphic design, software development, financial modeling, equity trading, project management, enterprise sales, product development, QA testing, school teaching, journalistic writing, market research, urban planning, etc.

What does this mean?

As skills become the new global currency, we’re going to see radical changes:

  1. Market breadth: Superskills are agnostic to race, gender, age, socioeconomics, etc., thereby making the market bigger and broader.

  2. Market depth: Microskills eclipse the noise of pedigree and the irrelevance of where and how people acquire their skills, thereby producing an exponentially more liquid market.

  3. Market scope: Future hires will be found everywhere, far beyond the gated walls of college campuses.


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