Model UN Teaches the 10 Future Skills Employers Want

by KFC on April 11, 2016

The World Economic Forum recently republished an article from Knowledge@Wharton, the business journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, about what future work skills employers are looking for. Employers have identified that there is a skills gap, meaning colleges are not teaching the skills that employers actually want. What are some of those future skills? Here is the list from the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.

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Looking at the Top 10 Skills in 2020, it is apparent to anyone who does Model United Nations that MUN is actually filling in the skill gap mentioned in the article. In other words, MUN is teaching all the skills needed for the future job market!

Specifically for the Top 10 skills mentioned:

1. Complex problem solving: The main objective of Model UN delegates is to solve global problems, and almost every problem includes a complex set of political, economic, humanitarian, and security issues related to it. If the problems weren’t complex, real-life diplomats would’ve resolved them already!

2. Critical thinking: The research process helps MUN delegates develop critical thinking skills. Delegates learn to conceptualize issues and analyze different facts as well as policies related to the issue. Their critical thinking skills are often challenged in committees as other delegates may question their line of reasoning in their country policies and possible solutions.

3. Creativity: Model UN challenges delegates to be creative with their solutions. Instead of merely copying and repeating existing solutions, delegates are expected to come up with creative solutions to resolve the issue. A lot of creativity also takes place during the conference when delegates can synthesize other delegates’ ideas and come up with collaborative solutions. Creativity is extremely pronounced in crisis committees where many scenarios require creative decision-making.

4. People management: The best delegates in MUN committees are usually people managers; they have to manage the different players in their resolution group. People management skills are also developed when MUN students run their own club and organize their own conference; they are essentially managing others to run their own nonprofit.

5. Coordinating with others: MUN delegates always work in teams in order to write their resolutions and lobby for support. This requires coordinating with others in their team to ensure that the resolutions are well-written, on policy, and incorporate all their allies’ perspectives.

6. Emotional intelligence: Model UN is a “smart sport” — it requires social and emotional intelligence to be able to understand people, to work with people, and to persuade people. This is perhaps the biggest difference between Model UN and any other academic competitions like speech and debate.

7. Judgment and decision-making: Model UN is not scripted and the entire simulation requires delegates to make a lot of decisions about themselves and about others including who to work with and who to vote for. This is further pronounced in crisis committees where delegates have to constantly use their judgment to make decisions based on imperfect information.

8. Service orientation: MUN delegates learn to provide service — meeting others’ needs — because they often have to listen to others’ perspectives and try to resolve their issues. Those who organize MUN conferences also learn to provide customer service to their participants. And MUN as an activity inspires many participates to “change the world” — to serve our world by making it better.

9. Negotiation: The whole point of Model UN is to negotiate solutions to global issues until they could be passed or adopted by the committee. MUN delegates learn to negotiate in small and large groups during unmoderated caucus or lobbying sessions.

10. Cognitive flexibility: MUN delegates develop the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts or think about multiple concepts simultaneously when they are introduced to conflicting country policies on various issues. Better yet, delegates develop this when they are assigned to represent a country that has a totally different viewpoint than the one they live in!

Overall, Model UN does a great job at giving students opportunities to develop and practice the skills that have been identified as desirable for the future workforce.

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