Do you know that Google, Apple, IBM, Bank of America, Starbucks and some other global companies no longer require a university degree for their job positions?
Everyone is talking today about 21st century skills young people will need in the workplace. Conventional wisdom has been that students need to study STEM courses (that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). And maybe they should learn to code as well because that’s where the jobs are. While I agree these are steps in the right direction, it appears much attention is focused on the surface and overlooking the foundation.
Watch The 7 Top Skills Google Now looks for in Graduates — and what it means for You
Recent studies of workplace success contradict the conventional wisdom about “hard skills.” Surprisingly, this research comes from the company most identified with the STEM-only approach: Google.
Google was launched in 1998. When they first started, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Paige (both brilliant computer scientists) set an algorithm to locate great computer science experts. In 2013, Google decided to test how their hiring and firing process has worked out so far, through a project they called “Project Oxygen”. The outcome of this project shocked everyone. It turned out that of the eight most important skills at Google, STEM expertise came in the last position. Topping the list were strong interpersonal skills. Google began adjusting their hiring process; they realized that elite science universities were not handing them their best employees.
So what are the most valuable skills Google now looks for in job candidates?
- Being a good coach: being able to transfer knowledge and help others get things done.
- Communicating and listening well: being able to effectively interact with other human beings in and outside a team to achieve set goals.
- Possessing insights into others (social awareness): being able to put yourself in others shoes and understanding that people are people.
- Empathy and support toward colleagues: ability to foster positive relationship with coworkers, even outside work
- Critical thinking: ability to objectively analyze and evaluate issues to form a judgment.
- Problem solving: ability to come up with innovative solutions to problems
- Connecting complex ideas: ability to identify connecting grounds between isolated concepts and make meaning of it.
In the end, the most transferrable skills in almost any industry fall under emotional intelligence. Here is what’s most interesting. Google takes pride in their “A Teams,” made up of top scientists, each with specialized knowledge and able to come up with cutting-edge ideas. The data analysis revealed, however, that Google’s best and most productive ideas came from their “B Teams” made up of employees who aren’t necessarily the smartest people on the team; But people who possess most of these 7 skills.
What this means for our education system
The question then is, what are young people being taught today to develop these skills that will prepare them for any career? Academic certificate is becoming increasingly detached from what is required in the real world. While we still need the STEM degrees, we need education systems that prioritize soft skills as well as hard skills.
What this means for young people
For you, the student and graduate, you must understand that a degree certificate would rarely get you any far if you don’t develop complimentary soft skills. The good news is that you can develop these skills outside school system. Enroll for online courses. Subscribe to our channel on YouTube. We publish inspiring videos to help you learn how to develop these critical soft skills. Start a business and start learning to communicate with people. The best place to develop these skills is on the field, not in classroom. Keep this advice from Jim Rohn in mind, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”