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Phoenix Forward

What skills will you need to succeed in the future?

Times have changed for U.S. workers. Companies in the mid-20th century were looking for rule-following, conformist employees who wanted to belong, according to “The Organization Man,” William H. Whyte’s famed examination of 1950s work culture.

Natasha Dalzell-Martinez, a research director with Apollo Education Group, parent company of University of Phoenix, led a team of consultants on a mission to identify the qualities employers seek today.

“There’s no linear career path anymore,” Dalzell-Martinez says. “The days where you worked in a vacuum for a single boss, using a single skill, with no real say or control over your own job or assignments are over. People now wear many hats and have many skills."

Dalzell-Martinez and her team identified the top 10 skills and how to acquire them through education:

The top 10 skills for the successful 21st-century worker

Top 10 skills for the successful 21st-century worker

  • Leadership

    Take a cross-disciplinary approach to project teamwork. Participate in leading and following in order to prepare for your career.

    "Many businesses are adopting a participative management style, which involves employees in decision making." - George DeMetropolis, University of Phoenix faculty member and leadership consultant

  • Collaboration

    Choose courses that are collaborative and measure success by team results.

  • Adaptability

    Take advantage of flexible course schedules and learning platforms in order to work, raise a family, volunteer and learn.

  • Innovation

    Seek out learning environments that build technology and media fluency.

  • Global citizenship

    Learn in a diverse classroom to gain opportunities to build cross-cultural understanding.

  • Critical thinking

    Take coursework that offers an opportunity to engage in self-directed, project-based and applied learning.

  • Communication

    Learn in an environment that requires participation in many modes of communication.

  • Productivity and accountability

    Select a school that provides a code of conduct in learning situations to build accountability and productivity.

    "Students must hold themselves accountable and have the opportunity to hold others accountable for the good of the team." - Irene Blundell, University of Phoenix faculty member

  • Accessing, analyzing and synthesizing information

    Seek out a market-driven curriculum focused on real cross-functional issues to help you think about how issues interconnect.

  • Entrepreneurialism

    Work on developing the ability to solve current and relevant issues in the safety of the classroom environment.