India is currently experiencing an unprecedented demographic shift, potentially powerful enough to redirect the economic winds of the nation to favour a heavy downpour of business chartbusters. These endeavours are certain to feature uncountable superstars, driven by the fact that the working age population is witnessing a gradual increase, with a projected highest ratio to reach a staggering 58 per cent in 2032. With a bustling employee populus keen on joining the crème de la crème of the business world, the homogeneity of the technical knowledge repositories of current aspirants bores rather than excites business leaders. Therefore, resumes often demand a shimmering highlight of 21st century skills, better known as power skills or soft skills.
A survey by LinkedIn revealed that 92 per cent talent professionals and hiring managers believe soft skills to play a more important role in recruitment than hard skills, and 89 per cent of them agree that a lack of soft skills makes for subpar hires.
These future-facing attributes set well-rounded candidates apart from the crowd, and appeal to the leaders’ cognitive and socio-emotional faculties if reflected in the applicant’s persona. Hence the cultivation of these variegated skills of success is a definite ace on the road to career success.
What skills do 21st century competencies encompass?
Capabilities for communication, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, conflict-resolution, and negotiation fall under the umbrella of power skills.
Multinational corporations are constantly on a lookout for talent beyond talent- potential leaders in the making with a want to find never-before-heard solutions and/or at the very least, the most elegantly viable approach to complexity. It is imperative that the solution is sought as a team, and communicated with clarity, mutual respect, and sharp language proficiency.
These abilities further allow professionals to build relationships with individuals, establish dependability and trust, and manage teams with ease. The working paradigm as re-imagined in 2023 is a thriving ecosystem of soft-skilled employees, who confidently demonstrate high-calibre disposition, the ability to manage time, rationalised decision-making, and proficient communication know-how. Furthermore, a 21st century industry archetype features healthy communication between leaders and their team, and portrayal of appropriate emotions during a critical time.
Soft skills enable firms to utilise their expertise and knowledge without being constrained by interpersonal conflicts and negative public impressions. For a workforce to flourish, leaders need to develop and induce attributes of power in themselves and their teams. This alone can ensure stability against a highly dynamic business world.
Nature or Nurture?
Most social interactions involve a basic component of soft skills, crucial for enhancing one’s bandwidth to connect with others and pace ahead in career. A lack of them thereby, might curb one’s personal and their business potential.
So, are a few lucky ones blessed by higher powers with these refreshing abilities to think with an innovative zing, or can these be developed overtime?
A worldview through refined apertures of thought can be stimulated through right interventions. Creative energies can be harnessed, rational cogitation can be forged. Hence re-adjustments and accommodations are needed in our educational institutions with respect to nation-wide pedagogical practices and the resources used in our learning spaces. Inculcating the habit to ask questions and enabling young minds find their own answers is the first step to creating 21st century business leaders of international merit.
But better late than never! Strategic programmes to develop power attributes that unleash an individual’s and team’s productivity are ideal to nurture quintessential workplace qualities. It is recommended that these learning opportunities are provided to our working pool. It may not be an honest possibility to equip every individual with a spectrum of skills in schools right away. In such a situation, the most elegantly viable approach to this complexity is to align young adults in higher educational arenas, and hires in workplaces, with these evolutionary soft skills. These measures will serve to unlock the global job markets for the roaring employable population of India.
About the author: Ratnesh Jha, CEO of the Burlington Group of Companies—Asia Pacific, is a graduate of JNU. He holds an MA from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from the Kellogg Management School. With more than 20 years of experience, he has worked at senior leadership positions in banking, telecommunications, education technology and technology sector. He has a strong passion to make Burlington English a platform that empowers educators and students by providing them with individualised training and learning support.