Unlock skills for the modern workplace using the 5 C’s


By: Mark Chaban Area Director of Education for Microsoft Middle East & Africa

I was recently at the BETT Education forum in Abu Dhabi, and top of everyone’s minds was how the business world is changing due to mobile technology.

With businesses focusing less on the organisation itself, and more on its people, students preparing for the world of work need to develop the right skills required for the modern and future workplace.

For me, there are five essential skills for the modern workplace – I call them the five Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and computational learning.

These rest on soft skills, or foundational skills as opposed to hard or practical skills. However, both are driven by technology.5c's


  • Communication: Communicating effectively and appropriately is vital to sharing ideas and collaborating with others. The ability to share information with enthusiasm and conviction is key to any modern-day job. Good communication skills demonstrate technical expertise and assist in creating persuasive material that delivers a message tailored to the intended audience.

  • Collaboration: Collaboration is about working in teams and learning from and contributing to the learning of others. It’s also about developing empathy working with diverse groups of individuals. The modern workplace requires more and more collaboration, and everyone in this environment must be willing and empowered to take ownership of problems and find solutions.

  • Critical thinking: To find workable solutions, critical thinking is necessary to make educated and objective judgments about problems and how to solve them. Critical thinking is required for questions that do not have simple answers; in asking such questions educators can promote critical thinking in learners.

  • Creativity: Creativity is our ability to pursue new ideas and solutions, think outside the box and develop innovative ways of doing things. Creativity is an essential skill for the modern workplace and is borne out of collaborative environments, where different ways of thinking are encouraged as means to solve problems in different ways.

  • Computational learning: Lastly, computational and technical learning is important in the modern workplace. It speaks to a deeper understanding of how to use technology to find solutions and how to effectively incorporate new technical knowledge into solving a problem. Computational learning allows for the skilful application of this technical knowledge towards innovation and performance improvement.

A focus on problem solving

It’s clear that there is a large focus on problem solving and a certain way of thinking and operating, rather than only technical skills such as mastering a specific coding language or software.

With technology advancing so quickly, it’s vital that young people learn to be agile and embrace change. These skills are essential for work in the 21st century and need to be instilled in young people at school level.

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