We’re halfway through a transformational year — people from all walks of life have experienced radical changes in their lives, including their work lives. We’ve been following the trends and reading about the workforce’s changing needs as we start the curve into 2021.
It makes sense that many people are looking to add skills that make them more valuable in the workforce. The Strada Center for Consumer Insights reports that 65% of surveyed workers expressed interest in education to provide them with more skills in their current career field, support a new career path, or pursue a personal interest. Based on our research (and in no particular order) here are nine in-demand workforce training topics that will be needed well into the future.
1. Remote Readiness
Approximately 42% of the U.S. labor force is working from home full time. These employees currently account for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Businesses and employees are continually learning from this transition, and classes related to remote readiness for both audiences will be relevant for quite some time. From home-office ergonomics to running virtual meetings, remote readiness courses will continue to help people acclimate to longer-term remote work.
2. Work-Life Integration
Maintaining a healthy relationship between work and home life has always been important for jobholders. When working from home, the separation between “office” and “home” might be just a few inches, so “work-life integration” is the new goal. Classes addressing stress management, flexible scheduling, establishing boundaries, time theming, and email management provide workers the skills to be happy, healthy, and productive no matter where their office is today.
3. Remote Team Management and Workplace Engagement
Working with remote teams may be a new experience for leaders, and training on best practices of remote management will help teams be more successful.
Strategic internal communications, creating and maintaining strong relationships with remote workers, preventing and managing employee burnout, and even structuring the virtual work environment are required for organizations to thrive. Workplace engagement training highlights the need for workers —in-person and off-site— to feel like part of the same team and experience company culture in meaningful ways.
4. Workplace Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equality
As the nation grapples with issues surrounding race and equality, classes that address these subjects are trending, particularly as they pertain to the workforce. Diversity training can improve cross-cultural communication, increases empathy among coworkers, and raises awareness of other cultures and personal biases.
5. Home Healthcare
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the healthcare industry is expected to add more jobs than any other occupational group through 2028. Some of the most needed jobs are home health aides and personal care aides, many of whom need certification and continuing education credits. Training for home physical therapy aides and nursing assistants are also in high demand.
6. Digital Literacy
Fundamental skills in managing digital technologies are needed to help people in the workforce and daily life in equal measure. Digital literacy includes fundamental skills that every worker should have such as working with computers, accessing information online, and communicating with others online in a way that’s responsible and safe. Finding and effectively using online resources and content, communicating and sharing, and even creating new content are all digital literacy skills. From figuring out the facts behind a meme to understanding digital security basics, digital literacy benefits everyone.
7. Software Development and Website Design
The world runs on software —business applications, social media sites, video games, online class registration, and even the website you’re using to read this article. Software is everywhere so it’s not surprising that demand for software developers is expected to grow 21% through 2028, higher than the average for most other occupations. Classes in modern programming languages, application development, and website design will remain popular and useful. Consider partnering those classes with courses on design thinking, which create better user experiences and empathy with consumers.
8. Data Literacy, Analytics, and Reasoning
Businesses of all sizes need employees to gather, interpret, and communicate data. Data analytics help organizations make fact-based decisions, predict customer and market actions, and allow experimentation with measurable outcomes. Classes on data literacy teach students how to read and understand data presented in various formats, draw conclusions from it, and discern when data is incorrectly used. As companies collect more and more data, workers with the data skills to read, understand, interpret, and ultimately tell the stories behind the data are critical for successful operations and growth.
9. Soft Skills
Adaptability, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and creativity have shown to be exceptionally helpful this year. These types of “soft skills” can make the difference between a good employee and an outstanding one. Soft skills contribute to better communication, improved outcomes in collaborative projects, and are frequently hallmarks of good leadership. Classes that bolster soft skills make employed workers more valuable and make job applicants more appealing to employers. In fact, employers surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management noted that creative problem solving and critical thinking represented the most lacking soft skill, followed by the ability to deal with ambiguity, and communication.
From persuasive public speaking to teamwork and time management, soft skill training will never go unnoticed and will always be in demand.
What Does This Mean for Diverse Educational Programs?
While we’ve shared some of the trending topics, workforce classes are always needed.
Because workforce needs are so diverse, it’s likely that your program can find a way to meet some of them. Theatrical arts programs are increasingly offering soft skills training programs that build confidence and presentation skills. Community education programs are perfect places to learn digital literacy, remote readiness, or start learners on the road to careers like web design. Community colleges provide training for jobs from healthcare to software and promote professional growth with classes focused on leadership and career development.
With an array of options and continuing demand, it’s worth considering how your program might meet the needs of the job market and help people further their career aspirations at the same time.