Minding the Competency Gap From College to Career: The Value of Virtual Teaming and VLEs for Skill Development

Minding the Competency Gap From College to Career: The Value of Virtual Teaming and VLEs for Skill Development

Kimberlee Beth Josephson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7331-0.ch014
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The Fourth Industrial Revolution is proving the development of certain soft skills to be of utmost importance and yet a skills gap is present regarding human-centric competencies and critical thinking capabilities. Fundamental proficiencies such as professionalism and business acumen are even proving to be deficient according to workforce trends, and this may worsen given the new norm of remote campus communities, whereas students will still engage with course content but less so with each other. As such, organizations utilizing online platforms for e-learning and virtual teaming should be mindful of not only the performance of the group but the abilities of participants and the socialization process necessary for aiding in competency development. The stages of group development identified by Bruce Tuckman are useful for reinforcing the application of the proposed principles for successful virtual team leadership by Deloitte. Through the alignment of stages and principles, virtual teams can increase their chances for not only success but competency development.
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The concept and application of teaming in the workplace is a common feature within management studies (Miller, 2003; Gilson et al., 2014), and the functioning of virtual teams (VT) has garnered an influx of attention given the dramatic shift to remote work that occurred throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (World Economic Forum [WEF] & Mercer, 2020). Although teaming is somewhat standard practice in today’s modern organizations (Morley et al., 2015; Schulze & Krumm, 2017), the formation and development of teams warrants further attention since misalignment and mismanagement are more likely to occur within organizations that are virtual in format (Kirkman et al., 2012; Deloitte, 2020). Greater care should be accorded to the establishment of VTs and their dynamic nature (Gibson et al., 2014) and one of the most widely referenced frameworks in management theory regarding the establishment and development of teams is Bruce Tuckman’s stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing (Tuckman, 1965; Miller, 2003; Bonebright, 2010). Tuckman (1965) determined that group development varies over time and an additional stage, adjourning, was later added to illustrate the life cycle process of group formation (Tuckman & Jensen, 1977).

Tuckman’s model integrates the “group structure realm and the task-activity realm” by considering such elements as group cohesion, role relatedness, and the prevalence of problem solving (Tuckman & Jensen, 1977, p. 420) – areas which can be improved upon over time. Therefore, Tuckman’s stages can serve as reference points for those overseeing the management of teams by drawing attention to opportunities for promoting skill development through team engagement. Skill development in relation to human-centric competencies is of particular interest to industry professionals given the positive economic impact it can have on productivity levels and creative processes (Myklebust & Smidt, 2021).

The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ a concept coined by Klaus Schwab, executive chairman for the World Economic Forum, for describing the economic impact of automation and smart technology (Schwab, 2016; WEF, 2020), necessitates soft skill development and yet a gap is present regarding human-centric competencies (National Association of Colleges and Employers [NACE], 2019). According to a survey administered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the ability to engage in problem solving, the capacity to deal with ambiguity, and the aptitude for effective communication are lacking within the workplace (SHRM, 2019), and this correlates with competencies highlighted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as being vital for organizational advancement (NACE, 2019). Competencies such as critical thinking, problem solving, professionalism, along with written and oral communications are top priorities for employers (NACE, 2019), and these areas are concomitant with the life skills predicted to be most desired by employers in 2020 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (Economist Intelligence Unit [EIU], 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Human-Centric Competencies: The ability to exercise interpersonal skills and engage with others.

Soft Skills: People skills that develop over time and relate to creativity and problem-solving.

Critical Thinking: Being able to apply reason and logic to infer judgement.

Teaming: A group that comes together for a common purpose or goal.

Virtual Learning Environment: A web-based platform allowing for online learning and content sharing.

Group Development Stages: Stages of group development identified by Bruce Tuckman which include forming, storming, norming, and performing.

Multi-Use Virtual Environment: A web-based platform allowing for collaboration and online immersive experiences.

Virtual Teams: Distanced form of teaming, commonly occurring by use of web-based platforms.

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