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Essential T-Shaped Skills (2015)

Equipping Students and Employees with Essential T-shaped Skills

The jobs driving the 21st Century economy will require employees to possess a mastery of core-content knowledge in a specific field, in addition to well-developed professional abilities, including interpersonal competencies. Employers are placing increased importance upon the mastery of competencies beyond those focused on the academic discipline. Today, an internship or similar experience is a necessity, with employers expecting more total months of experience than 10 years ago. Companies are providing less training in the first year of employment and many expect new hires to come prepared to:

  • Handle information from multiple sources;
  • Advance professional relationships across organizations or disciplinary communities;
  • Contribute innovatively to organizational practices and research design; and
  • Communicate with understanding across social, cultural, economic, and scientific boundaries.

Individuals with the abilities to bridge the traditional boundaries between disciplines have been referred to as “hybrid”, “boundary spanners” or “T-shaped” professionals.

In this webinar, the presenters share their insights on T-shaped development and how academic and industry organizations can equip students and employees for the workforce of the future.



Phil Gardener, Michigan State

Jim Spohrer, IBM

JoAnn Washam Winson, IBM