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Need for new skills development

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Published: 6 November 2020

University of Sunderland in London lecturer in tourism, hospitality and events

Dr Vipin Nadda is a lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Sunderland in London.

In this article, he discusses the importance of skills development, how we should be thinking of education as life-long and using our transferable knowledge to adapt to a changing marketplace.

“The process of gaining and using new skills, especially in relation to improving your job prospects, take purposeful, long-term effort and action.

Because of the impact it can have, I would argue that skills development should be a fundamental part of everyone’s life.

There are a huge range of different skills you can learn:

  • Cognitive skills
  • Technical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical skills

Transferable skills

Much of what you can learn whether from the list above or elsewhere, can be thought of as transferable.

That simply means they are relevant and helpful across different areas of life.

It also means they can be learned in one sector and used in another.

They are ‘portable skills’ - ones that give you an extra layer of employment security simply because they help you move between jobs, occupations and sectors.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that people often think about what transferable skills they have only when they’re applying for a career change.

For example, the customer service skills you learn as a member of the cabin crew in an airline can also be used when working in hotels, resorts, public places, museums, restaurants etc.

But, COVID-19 has deeply affected economies around the world, leading businesses to shut and to employees losing their jobs.

In circumstances like these, transferable skills inevitably play a crucial role.

But even before the pandemic, the changing pace of the global social and corporate environment already highlighted the need for new skills development.

Some areas to think about include:

  • How you can match your existing skills with the changing labour market.
  • Keep an eye out for the way employment changes. For example, moving from jobs being done manually to being computerised.
  • What kinds of new business are being created? The rise in virtual organisations as opposed to office-based work will have a major impact on the economy.
  • Think about the technological revolution – E.g., online shopping behaviour is creating new employment opportunities in areas like big data analysis, cloud services and digital marketing.
  • Consider the development of the green economy. For example, the UK has a low emissions target where by 2030 all petrol and diesel cars will have to switch to electric. The process is estimated to create around 18 million new jobs.

There are a number of ways we, both in what we learn and on a personal basis, can adapt to this changing job market.

  • We can address the new skills needed in initial education through what we teach and choose to study. Educational content should look to solve high-level problems, develop critical thinking and manage complex social interactions.
  • As the workplace becomes more and more automated, workers will need to continue learning throughout their professional careers. This could either be to perform new tasks in their existing jobs or to find new employment in emerging sectors.

Learning is a life-long process. Having that in mind when you’re thinking about your next steps will help you become a more resilient and adaptive employee.”

Dr Vipin Nadda teaches on a number of tourism and events courses including:

For more information about our Tourism, Hospitality and Events subjects, visit our Course pages.

You can learn more about Dr Nadda on his profileFind out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.