Future proof, future ready
how people-centred skills can give you an edge in the age of technology
Do you wonder what the world will be like in five, ten or twenty years time? It’s hard to keep up with society, technology, and the workplace developing so rapidly. Workplaces are becoming more digitised, hierarchy and power balances have shifted, and social influence is increasing.
What does this mean for the future of work? You might assume that because technology is transforming so quickly, workers need to pivot and upskill to keep up with the demands new technologies bring. While it’s important to understand technology, know how to use it, and recognise its impact – this is not the only way to future-proof your skills and set yourself apart from the crowd.
What skills help you stand out from the crowd?
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, we are seeing some clear trends in the skills required in the future workforce.  50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025 – but the skills required may not be what you’d expect. Data processing and automation are one part of the puzzle, but you still need human intelligence for so many critical areas like interpreting data, creative tasks and making decisions and working with other people in complex environments.
The report also outlines that critical thinking and problem-solving are skills many employers believe will grow in importance between now and 2025. As a result of COVID-19, skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility are becoming increasingly important.
The top 5 skills listed in the report for 2025 are:
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning strategies
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity, originality, and initiative
Self-reflection: the path to career success in the modern workplace
The first step to achieving those top five traits is to put your skills mix into perspective. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are equally as important as technical – and employers view them this way. Shift your focus and decide how you should develop these concurrently.
Make a strategic choice. Whether you’re just leaving school or university or are about to embark on a career change, it’s important to make choices based on current and future circumstances. All industries are transforming, and technology will keep advancing. The reality is that more roles will require digital literacy, so it’s essential to understand technology to truly future-proof your career.
This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert data analyst or programmer, but you need high-level knowledge of systems and how they work together. So, what’s the secret to long-term success? You need to understand how you can overlay critical thinking and problem-solving skills with technical expertise to give you a boost and show that you’re a well-rounded candidate.
Creativity and technology go hand in hand
Strong interpersonal skills and understanding human behaviour can also offer benefits like providing qualitative insights to quantitative data. Often, you need a backstory and creative influence to truly understand data and its impact on a business. As part of this process, understanding how people see things can help you analyse data and solve problems effectively.
Imagine you are working in a marketing team to research customer experience. Your brief is to work with a third-party agency to research your customers’ habits and behaviours. The agency used an algorithm to draw conclusions about customer behaviour, but the results just don’t sit right with you. Their explanation and proposed solutions would take the business in a different direction. You delve into the archives around past product changes and the impact on sales and share an alternative recommendation. You base insights on insider knowledge working in the business, rather than assessing data based only on the information from one point in time. Context is often the missing link, and your knowledge could save an organisation time and money.
Mindset is key
Having an innovation mindset is key to your personal and career growth in an age where change is moving more quickly.
Although analytical thinking, complex problem solving and critical thinking are important skills of the future, these traits aren’t used in isolation. Part of the solution is to become more systemic and strategic thinkers by understanding how things are interconnected and can influence each other. Linear thinking won’t survive, but curiosity will be increasingly important to help you become an influential strategic thinker. Many organisations aren’t using artificial intelligence effectively because they don’t understand how it fits current processes. There are many opportunities to add value to organisations across many industries if you can use offer these skills.
How do you make sure your skills stand the test of time? The best thing you can do is invest in yourself and show future employers how your diverse skillset makes you a valuable employee.
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 World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Report 2020