Critical thinking, decision making and digital skills: the on-the-job skills you need to get ahead

Nexford Staff
31.03.2019·5 min read

Why our learners master valuable real-life skills for the global workplace from day one

What skills do employers really want to see in their employees?

When we created our degree programs, we analyzed over 30 million online job vacancies and surveyed business leaders who employ over 2.5 million people worldwide. We’re not exaggerating when we say we have an in-depth understanding of what global employers want and need in their graduates.

We also know that there’s a skills gap between graduates and employers. While 91% of the learners we surveyed said that their primary reason for attending university was to get a job, but according to Gallup:

Only 11% of business leaders agreed that graduates were ready for the workplace.

The wisdom goes that there are some valuable skills you can only learn on the job. By this argument graduates are going into the workplace underprepared for their new roles–we’re tearing up this model and giving our graduates real-life workplace skills to make them more valuable employees from Day 1.

As an online learner, you’ll be taking key skills into your workplace and applying them as soon as you start your studies. No gap. No waiting while you focus on theory. Real-life workplace skills the moment you start your program.

So what are the key skills you need to get ahead at work in today’s global workplace? These are some of the most in-demand skills that employers want to see in their teams. They’re also some of our Institutional Learning Outcomes – what we promise our learners will be able to do when they complete our programs.

What do we mean by digital fluency?

You’ll need to master more than updating your social media channels. In today’s business world, employers need graduates to be able to locate and access digital information quickly, and know how to analyze it accurately. They need sophistication when it comes to making use of high-level technology, and the ability to use technology responsibly and securely. Digital security has become a key priority for global business leaders. With data security breaches impacting major brands, including Marriott in 2018, and Equifax in 2017, digital security protocol has never been more important.

With so much of our work – and lives – conducted in the digital sphere, it’s crucial that graduates enter the workplace not only speaking the latest digital language, and understanding digital culture, but with the insight and capacity to bring new ideas and up to date technology to their teams.

Nexford University is built on foundations of digital culture and sophisticated technology. It’s what allows us to bring high-quality education online, and make it accessible to learners around the world. Make sure you take advantage of our mapping technology (coming soon) when planning your learning journey. You can use this technology to map out your career ambitions and current skill set to build a personalized course plan.

Have you heard of the term ‘unicorn employee’? Ryan Holmes, Chief Executive Officer at social media planning tool giant Hootsuite, explains the term in this helpful blog.

“‘Unicorn’ employees, for me, are staff who possess a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable,” says Holmes. “Like actual unicorns, they’re hard to find, but once hired, offer up enormous benefits in the workplace.”

"They shatter expectations, raise the bar for everyone and are simply a joy to be around. Unicorn employees can literally take your business to the next level.”

Being able to think outside of the box, question the status quo and imagine new scenarios takes you one step closer to becoming an elusive unicorn employee.

These rare graduates are the ones who can create innovative strategic connections across an organization, and view the structure as a whole; who aren’t held back by the narrow silo of their own prescribed role when it comes to seeing the bigger picture for the business.

We’re not interested in turning out identical graduates. We’re interested in you, your personal goals, and tailoring your learning journey to your ambitions.

Looking to build your professional identity as someone who can add value by thinking critically and creatively? Don’t be hemmed in by your role. Make sure that you understand where you sit within the wider context of your organization, and what the broader impact of your work is, how it’s interconnected with the work of others within your organization to meet top-level strategy goals. Think broad, not narrow.

What do employers really want?

You might think that persuasive arguments are all about charisma and confidence. But they’re not. They’re about having the information to back-up your proposals. Smart talking can only get you so far. What employers really want are graduates who can collect, accurately analyze, interpret and present data effectively to drive their decision making.

When organizations are taking big decisions, they need to know exactly what the information is that they’re basing their forecasting and planning on. Data is more important than ever, and understanding how to gather, analyze and present it is crucial.

And it’s not just about collecting and analyzing. Being able to structure your findings and present your information convincingly is a skill of its own.

Here’s an example of how we present information. Watch our video on how we assess your mastery of the skills we’re talking about in this blog, focusing on another of our Institutional Learning Outcomes: Communication and Collaboration.

At Nexford, our Institutional Learning Outcomes represent the knowledge, skills and competencies that we expect all of our learners to master during their studies. We defined them after extensive research into exactly what skills employers want in their graduates. Our research included a global employer needs survey, World Economic Forum and United Nations reports, in-depth market analysis and expert input. Our full list of Institutional Learning Outcomes includes:

  • Digital Fluency
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Information-driven decision making
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Civic responsibility
  • Adaptive lifelong learning
  • Cultural and emotional intelligence
  • Customer-centric thinking

We promise that our learners will have mastered these Institutional Learning Outcomes when they complete our programs. Find out more about our learning model

About the Author

Nexford Staff

Nexford’s staff writers help you make the most of your university experience.

We’re based in the US and have teams across the world, including in the UK, Africa and Asia.

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