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IBM Finds Behavioral Skills Development Takes Priority Over Technical Skills. How Should You Respond?

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Operationalizing the New Behavioral Skills Development Imperative

IBM’s latest biennial report assessing the workplace skills gap finds that behavioral skills training has surpassed technical skills on the list of executives’ priorities for their employees’ professional development.

That key takeaway may be surprising to many who see the pace of technological innovation increasing, but here’s how things have changed in just two short years:

  • In 2016, IBM reported that technical core capabilities for STEM and basic computer and software application skills were listed at the forefront of competencies that employers were looking to develop in their workforce.
  • In 2018, behavioral skills, such as managing work and teamscommunicating effectively and anticipating how the nature of work is evolving, have supplanted technical skills at the top of the list of needs.

This sea of change does not imply that technical skills have diminished in importance. In fact, the IBM report agrees that the half-life of skills is continuing to shrink at an accelerated rate, while the time it takes to close the skills gap is rapidly increasing. It does, however, indicate that companies are realizing that they need to put greater emphasis on equipping their employees with the behavioral skills needed to manage this acceleration of change.

It’s encouraging to see broad recognition that behavioral skills development is a crucial need. Despite this, half of the executives surveyed by IBM report not having any skills development and execution strategies in place. So how can organizations incorporate behavioral skills development to add sustainable value across their workforce?

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