My most recent visit to Silicon Valley was a huge reminder of the pace and depth of change in the digital world, and the fact that every industry is being profoundly impacted by digital technology. One key implication of this unstoppable wave of change is: What kind of 21st century digital skills do workers of the future need and where/how will they be made?

I was fortunate enough to attend the massive get together of EdTech companies, educators, administrators and investors at the ASU GSV Summit in San Diego. Hearing from Bill Gates, Condoleezza Rice, Sal Khan, Jim Collins, Todd Rose and other leading innovators helped me imagine the skills, attitude and mindsets aspiring future workers need to bring to industry, to help us address the challenges of the digital age and deliver value to our customers.

Teaching digital skills

We saw these digital skills and attitudes in leading-edge schools we visited at e3 Civic High School in downtown San Diego and Vista Unified School District on the outskirts of the city. Seeing young students setting their own learning goals, using technology in the classroom to acquire new skills and teach each other, exhibiting their project-based learning outputs to parents and community members and speaking of the industry internships and political activities they were involved in—it’s hard to know when these kids sleep! At Vista, I witnessed middle-schoolers building lunar rovers, flying ironman robots and creating and printing 3D models in the Qualcomm and Verizon-funded design academy workshop.

4 dimensions of intelligence

The business world is changing faster than we can think. To remain competitive and prosper, we need some of the brightest and most talented young people in the world to join, stay and grow with us. Rather than simply going after the best young minds with business or technology majors, I believe we should be hiring based on four dimensions of intelligence—IQ, EQ, CQ and SQ. This holistic view of intelligence, skills, attitude and motivation are much better guides to whether people will thrive in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous working environment.

Look for people with IQ, EQ, CQ, SQ

  1. IQ (cognitive intelligence) Not just professional expertise, but entrepreneurial experimenters who, rather than knowing it all, recognise they have everything to learn. They will bring subject matter expertise in a few key areas, which they leverage powerfully though their trans-disciplinary savvy.
  2. EQ (emotional intelligence) People who are natural collaborators, willing to stand for each other’s success. Rather than accept the rules as given, people who can be intelligently disobedient, unlocking new ways of doing business and creating customer value.
  3. CQ (creative intelligence) Independent, original storytellers who can use their energy and imagination to bring new ideas to life. They’re not afraid to try new things or fail. On the contrary, they show true grit, determination and resilience, growing stronger and more prescient as they learn through doing.
  4. SQ (spiritual intelligence) We need self-motivated co-owners who have discovered their personal passion, know who they are and want to engage in the purpose and vision of our organisation. They recognise profit is important, yet judge their success by the impact they can make for the organisation, its customers and the community at large.

Tech Schools Summit

As it happened, I returned from my trip to Silicon Valley just in time to get to Melbourne for the Tech Schools Summit, where I joined a panel on how to strengthen industry and education collaboration with senior leaders from Victorian Government and peak business groups.

Tech Schools are an initiative of the Victorian Government, creating an initial 10 cutting-edge learning centres across the State. The Tech Schools will be shared learning environments, managed and operated by a partnership of local schools, local government, TAFE, university and industry partners.

The Summit saw hundreds of people come together to share best practice and ideas for how industry and education leaders can bring the vision to reality. It was encouraging to see that Australian schools are likely to equip the future generations with the digital skills necessary to shape the workers we need.