OSKA study on generic work life skills

OSKA study on generic work life skills provides an overview of what generic skills are, why they matter, and which generic skills are most in demand in the world of work.

The value of generic skills has increased dramatically over time, in line with the rapid changes in society. We are moving towards an increasingly digital, greener, more agile world of work, which has also been shaken up by the COVID-19 pandemic. Generic skills can help people cope with change-induced stress, adapt to different contexts, enjoy good relationships with colleagues, acquire new skills and re-profile or even change careers in the workplace. In addition, generic skills help balance work and private life, which is crucial in the era of home offices and flexible working hours.

Three groups of generic skills 

Generic skills fall into three broad groups: self-management skills, reflective skills and interpersonal skills. 

Most self-management skills are introspective, i.e. intrapersonal. Self-management skills improve task performance by improving the ability to control emerging situations.

Reflective skills include cognitive (i.e. cognitive, perceptual) skills, including the ability to learn. Reflective skills help us to see the essence of tasks and the optimal way to perform them.

Interpersonal skills help people understand each other better, relate to each other, and maintain good interpersonal relations even in difficult situations. People with good interpersonal skills are more productive because they are able to communicate their ideas through different methods (including digitally) and to maximise the involvement and motivation of others in solving tasks.

Employers place great value on generic skills 

OSKA’s sector-by-sector workforce and skills studies to date have highlighted the need to focus more on generic skills, as Estonia’s innovative spirit and knowledge-driven economy may also depend to a large extent on the quality of the generic skills of its employees and employers.

In order to understand which generic skills will be prominent in the professional life of the future and why, we examined the OSKA studies completed so far.

We found that Estonian employers, when talking about the need for generic skills in OSKA studies, most frequently stressed the following generic skills for all employees, regardless of their position: adapting to change, taking the initiative, achieving goals (self-management skills); analytical skills, learning skills, problem solving, creative and innovative thinking (reflective skills); teamwork and collaboration skills, communication skills, language skills (interpersonal skills).

Generic skills are essential prerequisites without which more specific competences cannot be acquired. Therefore, the teaching of generic skills must be developed in a more targeted way, alongside professional or field-specific skills.

OSKA study on generic work life skills was completed in the beginning of 2022.