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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Mikkelsen

10 Human Skills Top of Mind for Saskatchewan Employers

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

Employers from more than 12 industries across Saskatchewan say that human skills are currently a bigger priority for employee training than technical skills. Human, or soft skills, refer to how we relate to one another and include competencies such as communication, managing stress and conflict resolution. Unlike technical skills that vary across industries and job roles, human skills are shared and span both personal and professional life.

The insight comes from research conducted in collaboration with Saskatoon business, Insightrix® Market Research, in 2021 in which Managers, HR Managers and Business Owners from more than 400 small and medium-sized businesses and organizations were consulted. When the need for training related to human skills emerged as top of mind, it was no surprise.

Over the past two years, COVID-19 has created a perfect storm of stress and work upheaval. Employees had to adapt to tremendous pressure and uncertainty in both their personal and professional lives elevating the need for human skills. These highly desired human skills, like technical skills, require expert knowledge transfer, best practices and guidance to develop and be applied effectively.

Employers who hire employees with human skills or engage their employees in human skills training benefit from closing the skills gaps and building a well-rounded team that is positive and able to work well together.

Top Ten Human Skills

Here are the 10 human skills that emerged as top of mind for Saskatchewan employers in order of priority (based on percentage of interest):

1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (86%)

Number one resonates as crucial for employees regardless of job level. Employers can breathe easier if they know their employees can analyze information, self-reflect, apply structured thinking or methodologies, and arrive at actions and goals that are unbiased and in the best interest of the organization.

2. Communication (83%)

Communication encompasses everything from learning successful written and verbal exchange strategies to accommodating body language based on different audiences, situations and desired outcomes. The results of effective communication strategies can have positive internal and external impacts for your organization.

3. Managing Stress (78%)

Quickly rising to the top of highly sought-after skills, managing stress is having the tools, resources and awareness to ensure personal well-being, relationships and performance remain intact and healthy amid daily pressures.

4. Conflict Resolution (76%)

Differences of opinion and work styles often lead to discord in the workplace. Managers and employees benefit from understanding why conflict arises in the first place and learning strategies that help pave the way to peaceful and positive outcomes.

5. Team Building (73%)

There is a reason why youth sports teams are deemed early training for up-and-coming professionals. Effective team building is a quintessential blend of skills such as delegation, motivation and communication that when applied with expertise, leads to motivation, collaboration and winning results.

6. Emotional Intelligence (70%)

The need for emotional intelligence as a job skill has skyrocketed by 150% in the province over the last three years according to Emsi jobs data so it makes sense that it ranks high here. Understanding and managing your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, and developing empathy, self-awareness and resilience are part of the emotional intelligence journey.

7. Professional Ethics (68%)

Professional ethics skills training can refer to the development of a strong work ethic mindset fueled by desire and determination to achieve the best results in everything you do. It can also be combined with specific business and industry ethics.

8. Leading Change (64%)

Leading is hard but leading through change takes it to another level. Training in this area often focuses on learning the phases of a successful change process, how you can get your organization's attention for needed change and how to communicate a clear vision of what would happen if the change is achieved.

9. Coaching Skills (64%)

Imagine a dollar for every employee who moved into a management role without guidance on coaching methodology and you would have a pile of money. Enhancing employee performance and overall job satisfaction through active listening, goal setting, sincerity and support can be cultivated through training and quickly lead to positive results.

10. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) (59%)

The Federal Government’s call to action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion has left many employers scrambling for guidance on how to help their organizations become more inclusive and equitable. EDI skills training ranges from learning about unconscious bias and adopting inclusive terminology, through to equitable hiring practices and implementing an EDI work culture strategy.

Saskatchewan employers are not alone when it comes to seeking out stronger human skills among their employees. The increasing demand is reflected in national Emsi jobs data. Low morale, process inefficiencies, poor customer service or product quality, and employee turnover are some of the negative impacts employers say they connect with such skills gaps.

Take Action

Now is the time to start building a workforce with strong human skills to address these gaps, and help employees navigate daily work and life, as well as challenges when they arise.

If you’re interested in training options, browse our Professional Development courses and programs. We offer courses that focus on the top human skills gaps such as Navigating Difficult Conversations, Interpersonal Communication, Leading Change, Creating Effective Work Groups, Written Communications and more.

Funding Opportunities

Employers can access funding opportunities to help cover the costs of employee training including the Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant for up to $10,000 and the Re-Skill Saskatchewan Training Subsidy for up to $5,000.

Employees can apply for the U of R Alumni Association Professional Development Award for up to $500 per term and take advantage of the Government of Canada’s Canada Training Credit for $250 per year (unused years accumulate).

About Michelle Thybo Mikkelsen

Michelle Thybo Mikkelsen is a program coordinator with the Career & Professional Development team at CCE. She enjoys applying her skills and knowledge to help students, employers and communities in Saskatchewan thrive through professional development programming. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Communications from the University of Regina and a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Education and Communication from Royal Roads University. Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.

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