Changing Nature of Skill

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QUESTION: EMPLOYERS DEFINITION OF SKILL IS CHANGING AND THE TERM NOW INCREASINLY REFERS TO SOFT SKILLS RATHER THAN TECHNICAL ONES.WHAT IMPLICATIONS DOES THIS CHANGE LEAVE FOR EMPLOYERS, EMPLOYEES AND WIDER SOCIETY.

Skill today is a moving target and many people have a general understanding of skill, but defining exactly what is meant by the word is problematic (Dench, 1997). Until the 1970s, skills were managed in technical terms (Payne, 1999). This paper will be looking at certain reasons that led to the change in demand for skills and also the importance of these skills in demand. It would then go further to discuss the implications of these soft skills for employers, employees and the wider society. What is occurring today is a shift not only in which skills are relevant but also in the use of the word skill itself (Grugulis, 2007). Before going further, it is important to look at a definition of skill. “Skill is a goal directed well organised behaviour that is acquired through practice and performed with economy of effort” (Proctor, Addie and Ehrenstein, 1995). This definition of skill leans towards the hard/technical skill. Most observers view the educational system as a highly efficient vehicle for creating the skills needed to sustain the growth of the economy (Rumberger, 1981). For decades emphasis was centred on the technical skills necessary within the organisation (Buhler and M, 2001). As the world changes, the skills required of managers has changed, unfortunately these are the skills in short supply today (Buhler and M, 2001). A lot of the qualities and attributes that now feature highly on the list of skills required by employers would not have expected in earlier accounts (Grugulis, 2007). Skills have expanded widely to add an interesting collection of ‘soft’ generic transferable social interactional skills (Payne, 1999). A lot of employers seek willingness and better attitude to work. Some examples of soft skills include: Adaptability, communication skills, motivate co-workers, good listening skills, team player, dependability, conscientious, punctuality, honesty, energetic, enterprising, analytical, organized, interpersonal skills, creativity, willingness to change, ethics and value diversity. Workplace today is changing, and workers skills must be up to standard with the prospects of employers (Benedict, Esen and Williams, 2008). Organisations as a result of the limited pool of talent able to advance to managerial positions look to recruit the best and brightest people. This makes them adopt more strict recruitment and selection tools to ensure the best person for the job is gotten (Phillip and Hesketh, 2004). This war for talent reflects the larger complexity of managerial roles due to globalization, deregulation and growth in technologies, so companies require managers who can respond to these challenges (Phillip and Hesketh, 2004). British policy makers have emphasized on the importance of skills for economic competitiveness and motivation of its workforce (Payne, 1999). Psychological employment contract between firms had also changed. Under the old contract workers exchanged loyalty for job security, while the new contract workers exchanged performance for continuous learning and marketability (Sullivan, 1999). Technological change has great impact on the nature of work, the way it is coordinated and skills it requires. It requires new ways to doing things. New technologies in modern workplaces altered employers demand for skills (Sue and Tan, 2008). For example, with the advent of information technology and spread sheet software, many people have access to numerical information (Dench, 1997). The evolution of computers has created highly skilled jobs for certain people but has also deskilled those whose expertise relied on what went before, leading to redundancy of their skills (Grugulis, 2003). Development of machineries and computers has resulted in the elimination of workers and increasing...
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