Man looking stunnedThis morning I read an article about the future of jobs and careers in the USA.

It makes me think how relevant the article is for Australians and New Zealanders as well. For everybody in fact. Of particular interest to me is the article’s emphasis on social and analytical skills for a lot of jobs in the future. Social skills such as commmunication and management spring to my mind. In short, people skills or what is known as” soft skills”. It is no wonder that the article also mentions that women, and not men, are the stars in jobs of the future. As a cross-cultural educator interested in diversity and inclusion issues, I immediately think of cross-cultural communication skills. Such skills are essential for navigating the global economy because in the end, life is about people. Our personal and business life in all its facets is about people. People are our life line, our jobs & careers. People are us. No longer just managing people in our backyards, we are now communicating with people who live thousands of miles from us. The Internet has brought foreigners to our door steps within seconds. Effectively managing people different from us needs us to be saavy about cross-cultural communication and negotiation skills.

Chinese students

The importance of social and analytical skills is still not recognised as critical by Australian educators and global corporate leaders in this country. In the past two years, my research on diversity and inclusion issues confirms my view that leaders of this country tend to neglect mentioning cross-cultural training and education as a first step to understanding diversities amongst our population. Our ignorance about Muslims, our ignorance about the difference between a Vietnamese Aussie and an Indian Aussie is woeful. This is not even mentioning the differences amongst us, members of the Chinese diaspora and Chinese from China. Ask any Australian how much they know about us Chinese? Even Chinese Aussies know very little about Chinese as a whole. Until we get to know about our differences, we cannot form effective policies re inclusion and diversity in this country that we all call home.

Social skills also include knowledge and competence in a language other than English in Australia. in spite of the fact that China is so important to us Australians, Chinese Mandarin is still not taught in all schools. In the three years that I have been offerring Chinese Mandarin to children aged 5 years old and above (as an after school programmes), I am astounded by the interest in parents wanting their children to be fluent in Chinese Mandarin. At the same time, I am aware of the obstacles preventing us from producing Mandarin speaking little Aussies, for example, obstacles such as lack of good and well trained teachers, textbooks, fundings, etc. etc.

Social skills begin at early age at home and then in schools. If we don’t engage our children early in life about people who are different from them, socialise them into values which are positive such as acceptance, respect and love for humanity, then the foundation for social skills is a tough uphill battle later on in their lives.

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