What Key Competencies Do Youth Need to Thrive in the 21st Century?

Is your school’s leadership framework effective? Find out with the Youth Leadership Indicator Survey

What are the key drivers that will shape the landscape of the future workforce? This is a key question facing many educators and employers. How can we adequately prepare our young people with the necessary skill sets and qualities for the future workforce?

The Institute for the Future, a research center based in Palo Alto California and specialising in long-term forecasting and quantitative futures research methods, embarked on a study which identified key factors that will shape that future landscape:

  1. Extreme longevity: Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning
  2. Rise of smart machines and systems: Workplace robotics nudge human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks
  3. Computational world: Massive increase in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system
  4. New media ecology: New communication tools require new media literacies beyond text
  5. Superstructured organisations: Social technologies drive new forms of productions and value creation
  6. Globally-connected world: Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organisational operation.

In order to excel in the new landscape, relevant skill sets will be required. Are our current leadership development frameworks impactful and effective?

To find out, Halogen is pioneering a tool—the Youth Leadership Indicator Survey (YLIS). In partnership with the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL®) and National Youth Council, we are creating a benchmark survey that seeks to support your school’s quest to:

  • Identify key leadership competencies
  • Measure the current impact of your leadership programmes
  • Assess your current leadership development framework for the future

With that as the backdrop, Halogen conducted several focus group discussions with employers, managers and senior education officers to find out which qualities they believe are essential to excel in the future workforce. The focus group discussions resulted in selecting 35 qualities essential for young people to thrive; having these 35 qualities would not just make them a good future worker, but also a good future leader. With these 35 qualities, we approached the Centre for Creative Leadership. They devised a survey tool, the YLIS, to assess how each student fares on each of the qualities. This survey was then filled in by almost 600 youths aged 13 – 18.

From the data collected, we found that the five qualities youths see their strengths in are embracing multiculturalism, integrity, respect, learning from mistakes and humility. The five qualities they see themselves weakest in are in managing ethical dilemmas, critical thinking, handling criticism, patience and pressure.

They were also differences in how boys and girls ranked their self-perceived qualities. From the findings, we see that boys perceive themselves to be significantly stronger in communication, delegation, drive, global awareness and resilience. Girls, on the other hand, perceive themselves to be stronger in authenticity, collaboration, motivating others, responsibility and role modelling.

“From the findings, we see that boys perceive themselves to be significantly stronger in communication, delegation, drive, global awareness and resilience. Girls, on the other hand, perceive themselves to be stronger in authenticity, collaboration, motivating others, responsibility and role modelling.”

These findings are just preliminary and help to give insight into what students perceive to be their own strengths and weakness in terms of these future qualities. Further studies are being conducted to further validate these data points.

In its current form, the YLIS serves as a data collection tool which will contribute a larger sample size to the study. Schools that wish to contribute their students’ responses to aid in this study are welcome to do so. In return, a report will be generated for the school, highlighting the top and bottom qualities and the major differences by age and gender.

We hope the report will give insights as to how their school is helping to develop their students in terms of these essential qualities, as much as it would help in furthering our cause for developing a robust assessment tool that teachers can use in the near future.

If you would like to participate as a school, share any thoughts or be part of our research development group, we welcome you to email us at [email protected]


Article by Sean Kong

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