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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
In-Demand Job Skills
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks every piece of data you can imagine regarding employment, industries, and occupations including future outlook. The users of the information that the BLS gathers range from other government agencies, to economists, and right down to the average job seeker. The following ten skill-sets were noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as skills that will be increasing in demand over the next decade.

Problem-Solving Skills

People who can identify problems, research the problems, find solutions and make sound decisions are needed more in the fields of business administration, public administration, management consulting, science, engineering and healthcare. Implications in the job search are far-reaching. Every job seeker claims to be a problem-solver but employers ignore such trite phrases in resumes. Instead, they look for evidence of problems solved in the employment history of the candidate. Employers use behavioral interviewing techniques to see how well candidates perform in problem-solving situations.

Vocational-Technical Skills

With the continued advancement of technology, people who can fix, repair, configure and install the technology will be needed. Installation, testing and repair of most electrical, electronic and mechanical equipment in fields such as engineering, telecommunications, automotive, transportation and aerospace require people with advanced vocational-technical skills. These skills, at all levels from engineering and architecture down to technician level will be in demand as technology continues to expand into all areas of our lives. Basic skill levels will continue to rise across all fields requiring more and more technology skills to be used in all areas and by all workers.

Human Relations Skills

Often, the success of a company depends upon how well people can work together. Your personal skills will determine 85% of your success: attitude, enthusiasm, ability to work with others, smile, tone of voice, etc. Employers want “hard skills” – skills that can be learned or taught, but human relations skills are more innate, although no less vital to the success of a company. The ability to work with other people including co-workers, colleagues, supervisors, direct reports, and customers to bring about satisfactory results is the lifeblood of a company. Additionally, translate these skills into a global business culture, and these skills become even more important.

Computer Programming Skills

Understanding how to harness a computer's power and program it to meet the specific needs of a particular company can dramatically increase your employment opportunities. Specific languages most in demand today include C++, Java, HTML, Visual Basic, UNIX and SQL Server but new technologies are emerging all the time and the core skill set of programming languages will change over time. While it is important to know programming, it is just as important to continually learn the newest languages in order to stay marketable.

Teaching-Training Skill

We are told that today one day's edition of the Wall Street Journal has more information in it than a person in 1876 was exposed to in an entire lifetime. As a result, there will continue to be a demand for people with teaching and training skills in the fields of education, social services, management consulting and commerce to sort through and teach this massive amount of information. Don’t just think “classroom” or finger-painting when you think teaching. Teaching comes in many forms and manifests in almost every industry. There is also an emerging trend toward apprenticeships and mentoring coming back as a form of professional development; apprenticeship is one of the best ways to learn a new skill or field and employers are rediscovering it as a training method.

Science and Math Skills

Great advances are being made daily in the fields of science, medicine and engineering. Bright minds skilled in the sciences and math are needed to meet the challenges of these fields. Unfortunately, acquisition of science and math skills has degenerated into a political issue entangling the school system and teachers’ unions. If you missed out on a sound education in math and science, you may want to consider auditing some courses at the college level just to get up to speed with the emerging needs of the business world.

Money Management Skills

Even though income has increased dramatically, Americans are saving less and ending up broke at retirement more often. A CD is something round and shiny rather than a bank account for saving money. Investment brokers, securities officers, retirement planners, and accountants are in continual demand to meet this need.

Information Management Skills

Systems analysts, information technologists, database administrators and telecommunication engineers are examples of people with highly developed information management skills. These skills tie in with the demand for math and science skills, and computer programming skills mentioned above. The IT people are the life’s blood of the economy and our society because they keep us connected and informed, and they keep the technology beast running.

Foreign Language Skills

There is no such thing as an isolated national economy. Everything is global. The ability to speak a foreign language can make your employment opportunities expand exponentially. Some of the most in-demand languages include Arabic/Farsi, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. The ability to operate in foreign cultures is an additional skill that bring added advantage to the job seeker.

Business Management Skills

America is built on free enterprise. Understanding how to run a successful company is highly in demand. At the core of these skills is the ability to manage people, systems, resources and finances; to understand the needs of consumers and how to translate those needs into business opportunities. As we saw in the dot-com bust, enthusiasm and youth can only go so far. What is needed by employers is someone who can bring a business to success is wisdom, experience, and insight.

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