The Critically Thinking Employee: Employers' Point of View
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Critical thinking is one of the most significant skills and abilities, which have direct impact on individual success and society’s welfare. Especially loud is the voice of employers drawing attention to the need for critical thinking skills in the labour market and in a rapidly changing world in general. The World Economic Forum (2018) indicated the ten most wanted and needed skills in the labour market of 2020: critical thinking was placed at number two, following problem solving at number one. The American Management Association (AMA) Critical Skills Survey (2010, 2012) revealed that, according to employers, employees need to think critically, solve problems, innovate, collaborate, and communicate more effectively – they must excel at the “four Cs”: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. The goal of this article is to find out what and how employers with different managerial experience see critically thinking employees in today’s labour market. The research is based on phenomenography methodology and is the first such type of research about critical thinking in Lithuania. The phenomenography study revealed three hierarchically interconnected categories: A- decision to act here and now; B- verified and assured decision to act. C- innovative decisions for operational improvement. Empirical data allows identifying critical thinking related expectations of employers who anticipate that their employees could deal with emerging situations and are able to reason chosen decisions. Employers state that the critically thinking employee could give innovative suggestions; research participants describe critical thinking as higher order reasoning which gives added value to an organisation. Such understanding reflects the definition of critical thinking as a cognitive endeavour, directed to functionality in making decisions and solving particular problems. Employees’ critical thinking manifests at personal, interpersonal and societal levels.
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