Self-Efficacy: A Critical Skill for Workers Now and in the Future

I’ve spent a lot of my career focused on talent development – either as a people leader, helping companies attract and retain talent, or – most recently – providing opportunities for youth to figure out what they want to do and how they can get there.

As part of this work, I love to stay abreast of trends related to the “future of work”.

In May 2023, the World Economic Forum released the Future of Jobs Report 2023. There was lots of interesting information (and fuel for future blogs!) but I was struck by what was identified as the most important skills for workers in 2023, and how well JA learning experiences help youth develop those skills.

According to the Future of Jobs report, the top two skills for workers in 2023 are analytical and creative thinking skills. The most important skills all relate to self-efficacy: resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; and curiosity and lifelong learning.

Albert Bandura and Icek Ajzen pioneered the idea of self-efficacy: that people who believe they will succeed are more likely than others to actually succeed. (You can read more about self-efficacy in Asheesh Advani’s 2017 post here).

In Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, Bandura suggested four ways to increase self-efficacy:

  1. Mastering skills through hands-on experience
  2. Observing others with self-efficacy achieve success
  3. Hearing that others believe in one’s ability to succeed
  4. Rerouting negative thoughts into positive ones

Through JA’s immersive, hands-on learning experiences, students have an opportunity to master skills – everything from budgeting to starting a business – which is one of the most important ways to develop self-efficacy. I love to see when a student has an “a-ha” moment or shares the sense of satisfaction they’ve achieved by overcoming an obstacle. Those are the signs they’re developing self-efficacy…a vital skill for now and in the future.

As leaders, you may have seen your staff exhibit signs of self-efficacy (probably a lot during the pandemic, but hopefully you’re still seeing them on a regular basis). How do you help them develop those attitudes and behaviours on a regular basis?

Over the coming months, we’ll be posting regular blogs about JA’s three pillars: financial health, work readiness and entrepreneurship. We hope you’ll learn something or be inspired to share our vision of a world in which young people have the skillset and mindset to create thriving communities.

Karen Gallant
President and CEO
JA South Western Ontario