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Why are they so important?

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The world of work is:

Based on good communication - almost all modern workplaces need their employees to communicate well with each other, their supervisors or managers, and their customers or service users. It is impossible for companies and organisations to offer a good service to their customers or service users, unless their employees work as a team and communicate.

Complex - more jobs need workers who have the skills and ability to use numbers, computers, telephones and the written word to get things done.  About ten years ago for example, It may have been possible to do a basic practical job, using job-specific practical skills learnt at work, without using any reading or writing skills. Increasingly, all workers doing practical jobs now have to use literacy skills to keep records and follow instructions.

Most employers will expect you to train and continue to improve your skills, and sometimes qualifications, while you are working.   

Changing - it is less likely that you will have a job-for-life in the future world of work.  Most people will work for several employers, and even in different job sectors, during their working life. Some people will have a range of different part-time jobs, or maybe work part-time for an employer and be self-employed for the remainder of their working time.