What skills will you need in the future?

by frank-stuart

In the ever changing world in which we live, it’s hard to envision what the future holds for us. If you are considering your future career though, perhaps you should consider what skills will be in high demand in the future.

The Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute has just released a ground-breaking report on ‘Future Work Skills 2020’ that gives us a sneak peak at what skills we will need in the next decade. It doesn’t explore specific jobs but instead looks at the type of skills that will be driving the workforce.

Here are 6 Drivers of Change that will change the workforce –

  1. Extreme Longevity – The good news is we are all living longer! This means that we will rearrange our approach to certain areas in our lives such as careers, family life and education. We will most likely be working longer and they predict it won’t be uncommon to change occupations a few times during your life. Employers will need to look at making career paths more diverse and flexible to keep us engaged.
  2. Rise of smart machines and systems – Smart Machines will continue to play bigger roles in our lives. Humans will need to find our place alongside these machines and rethink our work processes. Smart machines will in some cases replace jobs and in others they will complement human’s strengths, resulting in a whole new level of quality and production.
  3. Computational World – The implementation of sensors, communications and processing power into objects and environments will take data collection to a whole new level. We will be able to track everything. All decisions we make will be based on data collected so it will be important to make decisions based on this information.
  4. New media ecology – Our communication is going to continue to change. Think of the sophisticated channels we are using today like video, blogs and podcasts and then consider what it will be like over the next 10 years. We are literally developing a new language for communication and we are constantly being introduced to new media for communication.
  5. Superstructed Organisations – New technologies and social media platforms are changing the way we connect. Businesses will be finding ways to utilise these social tools in order to compete.
  6. Globally connected world – it’s getting a whole lot easier to be connected to the rest of the world. Business will continue to outsource work to developing countries but will need to integrate outsourced functions with their local employees and processes to remain competitive.

So what do these forces mean for workers in the next decade?

The Future Work Skills 2020 report has identified 10 critical skills you will need to be competitive in the workforce –

  1. Sense Making – the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed. A smart machine will be able to do the brunt work but it won’t be able to think and make an accurate decision, that’s where humans need to step up.
  2. Social Intelligence – ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions. Again, robots aren’t really the emotional types. Human social skills will be a key skill we can utilise to build relationships of trust.
  3. Novel & adaptive thinking – proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which rule-based. Research has shown that middle skill white collar and blue collar job opportunities are declining. Low skill and high skill jobs are increasing, as these are the ones that aren’t autonomous and require flexibility and on the feet thinking, therefore can’t be done by a machine.
  4. Cross-Cultural Competency – ability to operate in different cultural settings. As companies continue to globalise it is likely that work teams will involve people from many different backgrounds. Cross-cultural skills will allow you to build relationships and work together effectively.
  5. Computational thinking – As we begin to rely on data to make decisions, the ability to use computational thinking skills will be required to use this information effectively. Job hunters will be looking for more than basic Microsoft software training; they’ll be looking for people with statistical analysis and quantitative reasoning skills.
  6. New Media Literacy – ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication. You’ll need to be able to assess and understand new media forms (such as video) in the same way we now look at a sheet of paper. We will also need sophisticated skills to present our own work through new media and make it more visually appealing.
  7. Transdisciplinarity – literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines. Workers in the next decade will need to understand one field of expertise but also be able to work and have skills in other disciplines. Workers will have multiple careers and will need to encompass continual education to diversify their skill set.
  8. Design Mindset – ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes. Workers will need to recognise which tasks require different kinds of thinking and make changes to their work environment in order to accomplish these tasks.
  9. Cognitive Load Management – ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques. There is so much information out there! Workers will need to find ways to filter through the clutter and find the information they need. Ranking, tagging or adding data will help increase the quality of data and help it rise above the less relevant information.
  10. Virtual Collaboration – ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team. Workers need to feel engaged and part of a team even if they aren’t physically sitting next to somebody. Networking sites is one example of a tool that can be used to make virtual teams feel better connected.

Education will be paramount in the future and it will be important that Educational Providers adapt to ensure they place greater emphasis within courses on the skills in demand, and also consider the appropriate medium for delivering education.

Find out more by visiting ACPE website >


‘Future Work Skills 2020’, Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute. Click here to download the Future Work Skills 2020 report >

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