12/13/2010 06:19 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Transforming Today's Talent for Tomorrow

Preparing the next generation to live and work in a rapidly transforming global economy requires a new way of looking at employment, education and training that will rely heavily on technology and collaboration. Key technological, economic and social trends are transforming the business landscape and the world in which we live, work and learn.

To be successful in a rapidly shifting global economy, the workforce of the future will need to adapt to a completely new educational paradigm incorporating the flexibility to build new skills needed for this changing environment. Education needs to prepare students for next-generation jobs that have already begun to surface in our restructured economy.

Growth in the Information Economy

The jobs being created in today's economy are different from those of the past, and retraining workers while educating students in the disciplines we need for the future workforce is now top of mind for leaders in most industries. So what skills will best prepare students and displaced workers in developed countries for success? Employers will be looking for talent that can handle the most challenging topics including problem solving, global awareness, collaboration and communication.

By 2018, 40 percent of jobs will be in five industries: information technology, education, financial services, professional and business services, and health care. Experts estimate that 75 to 90 percent of these jobs will require postsecondary education or training. Current and projected U.S. labor skills will not be sufficient for the increase in demand. Over the next several years, employers will need 22 million new workers with postsecondary degrees but will see a shortfall of 3 million workers, representing a gap of 300,000 college graduates every year between now and 2018.

A recent survey commissioned by Cisco found that three of every five employees believe it is unnecessary to be in the office to be productive, and two of three employees worldwide say they prefer a job with less pay and more flexibility. Students need to be prepared for these changing workplaces, which bring with them increased collaboration, a swifter pace, and unstructured work environments.

Technological developments will increase the demand for educated and certified IT workers to keep up with the growing role of technology in ever-changing business models. Shifts in transportation, government services, connected health care and education will create both challenges and unprecedented job opportunities requiring new skills.

These industries, and even entire cities, will run on networked information. Through collaboration, businesses will harness all of the knowledge and expertise within their partners as well as within their own organizations. Globalization of many industries in this flat world requires a workforce that is able to understand different cultures, adapt products and services to new growth economies, and deal with regulations, business practices and attitudes that vary widely across the globe.

Education & Leadership

Tomorrow's workforce needs a diverse range of skills to solve complex problems in changing environments across many disciplines. There are vast opportunities for educational institutions to produce valuable skills for these workers.

Students will begin to see an increasing emphasis on real-world work experience during the educational process. Education in the classroom will be supplemented with opportunities to develop hands-on skills through on-site training, coursework, collaboration, social interaction and new learning technologies.

Educators need to understand this new paradigm to prepare the next generation of workers, but they cannot do this alone. Industry will play a major role in making investments in workers early on -- instilling in employees a solid understanding of the skills that companies desire in their future leaders. Industry must not be shortsighted in acquiring talent. As the economy recovers, talent that is fresh and ready to meet upcoming challenges will be a defining factor for growth. Attracting top students straight out of universities, and providing the development they need to excel, can be one of the best investments a company can make.

Over the next decade, the development of new collaboration, business and technology skills will steadily increase in importance. By embracing new technologies, the future classroom will meet the evolving needs of students and employers alike, developing a robust workforce prepared for a variety of opportunities and challenges. Individuals that can adapt to a globalized environment, understand the impacts of their decisions, and capitalize on change to turn it into an advantage will be prepared to become the leaders of tomorrow's networked global economy.