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Event summary produced by The Globe and Mail Events team. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

As the digital transformation gains velocity though the pandemic, business leaders are assessing the skills most essential for future-ready workforces. The Globe and Mail hosted a webcast on October 13 to bring business and academic leaders together to discuss the knowledge employees will need to succeed in the shifting economy. The webcast was presented with support from Athabasca University. Sean Stanleigh, head of The Content Studio at The Globe and Mail, moderated the panel discussion.

Highlights from the discussion appear below the webcast recording.

Highlights from the discussion:

1). The nature of work is changing

Much of the work we currently do is process or task focused but that will change with the development of technologies such as artificial intelligence (A.I.), said Joe Cox, Canada research chair in digital disruption and organizational transformation with Athabasca University. With A.I. in the picture, they will shift their focus to figuring out the business problems that need solving and how best to pose these problems to the technology systems. The role of managers will also change, he added, skewing away from their current priority of predicting what will happen in the future, to making good judgements.

2). Training is vital for success

The digital economy requires individuals who have specific technology skills, especially in the area of cybersecurity, said Claudette McGowan, global executive officer for cybersecurity with TD Bank. She pointed out the skills shortfall in cybersecurity and noted it could be a good opportunity for mid-career individuals to pivot into a growing field by taking training at an academic institution or privately. She said reverse mentorships are also valuable, providing an opportunity for more senior staff to shore up their skills in emerging technologies, social media and data analytics.

3). Soft skills and micro-skills will dominate

Nicole Verkindt is a tech entrepreneur and founder of OMX, a procurement technology company. She said new hires at OMX fall into two camps. The first relates to soft skills, including judgement ability, in order to interpret data from technology programs. Diversity of backgrounds and experiences is also important. The second area relates to specific skills. In the past, an undergrad degree in business might be sufficient to achieve a job in marketing, for example. Increasingly, however, she is looking for candidates with niche skills, such as experience with HubSpot or data analytics tools. An entrepreneurial mindset is also highly valued, she added.

Watch the full webcast above for specific examples of the knowledge, experience and skills of most importance for success in the digital economy.

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