Future-proof your skills

Future-proof your skills

Looking into the future

As the pace of change in the world increases and technology and innovation continue to revolutionize our lives, it goes without saying that we’ll need new skills to navigate a new world. The jobs of tomorrow will differ vastly from the ones we do today, much as the traditional qualifications we have relied on will change.

Top 10 skills of the future

These are the top skills that will be required in the future, according to chief human resources and strategic officers from global companies:

  • Complex problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • People management
  • Cooperation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Service orientation
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Negotiation

Key work skills and capabilities

In a recent report, the Institute for the Future published the skills it believes will be crucial for the future.

Sense-making skills: this is all about the ability to make connections that create new ideas. Blogger Maria Popova has been credited as making this notion more concrete: “In order for us to create and contribute to this world, we have to connect countless dots, cross pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines and combine and recombine these pieces to build new castles.”

Social intelligence: building relationships and connecting with people remains a crucial ability, but as we look ahead this is more about asking the right questions than having all the answers. It’s an age where the focus is on the individual: no two people have the same goals, nor are they motivated by the same things. It’s about personalisation – each person is unique and wants to be treated in a unique way, which means we need to learn to connect with people in a deeper and more meaningful way, and develop the skills that enable us to understand the emotions of others and what motivates them, and ultimately take a more human approach to business.

Cross-cultural competencies: No matter where in the world you’re working, it’s a given that you will encounter people of different cultures and beliefs. They key here is to adapt styles of communication, learn empathy and learn to collaborate.

Novel and adaptive thinking: we know the world around us is changing. It’s up to each individual to ensure that his or her skills are relevant for the future. Take the initiative in terms of improving your skills, learning and adapting.

Computational thinking: data is the buzzword, which means we need to learn to become more analytical. We need to be able to translate data into insights and understand the meanings, trends and patterns that emerge.

New media literacy: in a world of videos, blogs and podcasts, the way in which we communicate and consume media has already changed dramatically. You’re a digital native, so you’ll understand that fluency in digital and social media communications is the only way to speak the language of the future.

Trans-disciplinary ability:  how does an individual or an organisation stand out from the competition in the workplace of the future? Being a specialist in a certain field won’t help you here –indeed, most companies will seek generalists to bring in new skills. These include the ability to see things holistically, listen, collaborate, combine ideas and connect the dots.

Design mind-set: this refers to the ideas and attitudes by which you approach a certain situation. The focus of the future will be on human values and people. Empathy is key and this is achieved through conversation, observation or experience. Ultimately, having a design mind-set will be key when it comes to executing projects successfully.

Cognitive load management: we all talk about the information overload we’re exposed to on a daily basis. This skill is about filtering and managing what is important and what isn’t so that you can ignore distractions and tackle priorities.

Virtual collaboration: work is increasingly globalised, which means we need to be able to work as leaders or members of virtual teams. Of course technology helps us in this regard, but working virtually also requires a new set of skills to ensure efficiency in a global, cross-cultural reality.

Staying relevant

Of course there is no list on earth that will guarantee complete success at work. However, if there is one crucial point to remember, it’s that ensuring that the skills you bring to the table are relevant to the environment in which you work – it is this that will give you the edge.

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