The NEXT Normal
The NEXT Normal
Aug 18, 2021
New Skills Development in the NEXT Normal
Play • 30 min

In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we myth bust some of the assumptions and outdated ideas around career and skill development. What do we need to foster in our workforce now that we’ve gone through this experience? What have we discovered about education and training? Have retirement expectations shifted? Are there new skills gaps to address?


Today’s host, Challenge Factory President, Lisa Taylor, kicks things off by highlighting the assumption that that older workers were going to struggle the most with the rapid shift to working remotely. As it turned out it was the younger, less experienced workers that faced greater challenges in adapting to working at home. The divide between who needs what in terms of skill development was amplified during Covid.

[04:44]- “It's not the hard skills of, ‘How do I use a technology?’ that really makes a difference. It's how do I communicate? How do I relate? How do I have empathy for my colleagues? How do I know what's happening with them in a way that's more on emotional connection?”


Sarah Thorne, President and CEO at Decision Partners, points out that the way we’ve approached skill development and training the workforce has always been very top-down- telling workers which skills they need to have to be employable. Sarah believes we’d be much further ahead if we engaged the workforce to determine what they need to be successful.

[07:43]- “I think what we've seen in the last 15 months is that people have really come to terms with their own skills, their abilities, what they like to do, what they don't like to do, and where they want to spend their time.”


Ujwal Arkalgud, CEO and Cultural Anthropologist of MotivBase, examines how the stigma of learning online has shifted to support skill development online as an acceptable avenue to develop new skills presenting unique opportunities that don’t always exist in the traditional learning environment.

[15:40]- “If I'm 60 years old, I don't have to learn from a 25-year-old who doesn't have my experience, the challenges I experience. I can learn from another 60-year-old, who sort of faced similar circumstances, has had to learn new skills later in life to keep their careers going, to manage paying for their kids' education or whatever else that might be. And I think that's the positive coming out of the pandemic.”


Entrepreneurship in Canada often faces a cultural barrier. It is often something to be pulled back from, the last resort. Urban planner Dave Hardy, President of Hardy Steveson and Associates, likens the Canadian versus American culture around starting your own business to lobsters in a pot.

[22:32]- “And, to me, that's the Canadian-US dilemma here. We just don't teach entrepreneurship enough. I'm a member of a service group, Rotary, and we take some of the brightest kids for a full weekend, kind of sabbatical, and introduce them to somebody beyond a teacher. That's what they want to be because that's the only people they see. So, to me, we have an awful long way to go to do that entrepreneurship.”


In next week’s episode of The Next Normal, Dave Hardy leads the conversation from skill development to post-Covid technology and fostering an environment for innovation. We touch on Big Data, AI, accessibility, sustainable technologies e.g Smart Cities, and more.

Have comments questions or ideas for our hosts? Feel free to drop us an email at hello at StoryStudioNetwork dot com.


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