Serving the Workers and Workplaces of Tomorrow

What kinds of skills will information professionals need to learn if they are to be successful in the years ahead? Answering that question will depend at least partly on understanding what kinds of skills their clients will need to learn if they are to be successful.

One skill (actually, it's more like a set of skills) that is gaining favor among workplace experts is transliteracy–essentially, the ability to use and share information across a variety of media and tools. Stephen Abram, in his "Info Tech" column in the July/August issue of Information Outlook, notes that transliteracy lies at the heart of helping tomorrow's workers and workplaces be more productive.

" … Search, retrieval, and usage rarely suffice to create a competent and successful employee," he writes. "We need more discussion about, and study of, the unique challenges of increasing information literacy skills in the workplace … I take a broad view of information literacy and subscribe to the emerging discussion about 'transliteracy.' I believe that these skills will be essential in the 21st Century."

Devin Fidler, a research manager with the Institute for the Future, echoes Stephen's thoughts. "The next generation of workers will need to become fluent in media forms such as video and be able to 'read' and assess them in the same way that they currently read and assess a paper or presentation," he writes in his article, "Understanding Work Skills for the Decade Ahead."

The academic and business communities are doing their part to encourage transliteracy and other skills among current and future workers, and information vendors are getting into the game as well. In "Staying Relevant in the Digital Age," Delores Meglio notes that her employer, Knovel, sponsors a "University Challenge" to provide engineering students with hands-on experience using information resources.

For information professionals, the implications of a generation of transliterate workers entering Fortune 1000 companies, law firms, medical centers, government agencies, and other organizations are profound. They will need to re-think their work methods, training approaches, and service models. They will also need to keep abreast of changes in technology and content as well as developments in their industry and profession.

To learn more about the skills that will be increasingly critical to workers and info pros in the coming decade and beyond, read the July/August issue of Information Outlook.


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