Skills Development for 21st Century Knowledge Workers



Beyond the basic office skills in using word processing software or spreadsheets, what skills are most in demand in today’s knowledge organizations? Is the rising population of knowledge workers properly equipped with the data management skills needed for working with sophisticated tools such as Salesforce? What is needed to properly equip a 21st century information workforce? How do you identify the skills of each team member and support their future development? This roundtable will gather decision-makers from across the information community to talk about the practicalities, challenges, and opportunities for today’s employers and employees.

Confirmed Speakers: Dr. Guylaine Beaudry, University Librarian, Concordia University; Angela Cochran, Vice President, Publishing, ASCO; Joseph Salem, Dean of University Libraries, Michigan State University; Karen G. Schneider, Dean of the Library, Sonoma State University; and Dean J. Smith, Director, Duke University Press. 

Event Sessions

Roundtable Discussion


Angela Cochran

Vice President, Publishing
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Joseph Salem

Dean of Libraries and Interim Associate Provost for Teaching & Learning Innovation
Michigan State University

The discussion by participants touched on the following:

What are some of the specific workflows or processes in your organization or institutional that are changing? Can you talk about the demands that those workflow changes represent for your staff or on actual staffing requirements? Are there jobs or functions that you see diminishing in importance? Where are the gaps? 

In our previous webinar on organizational resilience, the point was made that the pandemic is causing many organizations to reconsider the ways in which they deploy staff and resources. Are there changes that you have made over the past two years that you think will remain in place? (Do you anticipate more staff continuing to work remotely? Do you anticipate re-classification of roles or functions? Do you anticipate shifting externally-facing services to an increasingly self-serve approach?

Is it possible to talk about and compare the types of skills that you are looking for now (in the midst of a pandemic) and the types of skills that you anticipate you might need to hire 5-10 years down the road? (What skill sets are needed in support of new formats? Can you identify specific skills that are in demand with regard to support for working with data or analytics?)

Are you finding those skills in the rising workforce population? What are some of the challenges in assisting staff in acquiring those skills? 

Are there incentives that you’re finding are more attractive to potential employees? Is offering a flexible hybrid working environment of greater interest than a benefits package? 

In your opinion, are educational programs (whether at the bachelors or masters level) including the right kind of foundational coursework that allow individuals to step into the jobs that you anticipate as becoming more critical to success? 

Do you have training budgets or professional development budgets for existing staff? Are employees expected to acquire skills on their own initiative? What criteria do you have for identifying worthwhile training programs or offerings? 

Within the information industry over the past several decades, there have been opportunities for career cross-over between the academic library sector and the scholarly publishing sector. Do you think this overlap in desirable job skills will continue and/or expand over time? 

Additional Information

NISO assumes organizations register as a group. The model assumes that an unlimited number of staff will be watching the live broadcast in a single location, but also includes access to an archived recording of the event for those who may have timing conflicts. 

NISO understands that, during the current pandemic, staff at a number of organizations may be practicing safe social distancing or working remotely. To accommodate those workers, we are allowing registrants to share the sign-on instructions with all colleagues so that they may join the broadcast directly. 

Registrants receive sign-on instructions via email on the Friday prior to the virtual event. If you have not received your instructions by the day before an event, please contact NISO headquarters for assistance via email ( 

Registrants for an event may cancel participation and receive a refund (less $35.00) if the notice of cancellation is received at NISO HQ ( one full week prior to the event date. If received less than 7 days before, no refund will be provided. 

Links to the archived recording of the broadcast are distributed to registrants 24-48 hours following the close of the live event. Access to that recording is intended for internal use of fellow staff at the registrant’s organization or institution. Speaker presentations are posted to the NISO event page.

Broadcast Platform

NISO uses the Zoom platform for purposes of broadcasting our live events. Zoom provides apps for a variety of computing devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) To view the broadcast, you will need a device that supports the Zoom app. Attendees may also choose to listen just to audio on their phones. Sign-on credentials include the necessary dial-in numbers, if that is your preference. Once notified of their availability, recordings may be downloaded from the Zoom platform to your machine for local viewing.