In a partnership with the University of Phoenix the Institute for the Future has produced a new report titled Future Work Skills 2020. The report identifies the key driving factors changing the workplace. The report is best for college students or mid-career workers thinking about making a change. As a matter of fact, according to the report, there are six drivers of change:
- Extreme longevity – Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning.
- Rise of smart machines and systems – Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks.
- Computational world – Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system.
- New media ecology – New communication tools require new media literacies beyond text.
- Superstructured organizations – Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation.
- Globally connected world – Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations.
Some of these are more obvious than others, and futurists have been talking about most of these issues for decades now. However, they are indeed some of the most important drivers of the workplace and both students and workers should be be thinking about how these trends will effect them.
As a result of these drivers, the report suggests the following as key skills in the future workforce:
- Sense-making – The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
- Social intelligence – Ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired intentions
- Novel and adaptive thinking – Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.
- Cross-cultural competency – Ability to operate in different cultural settings.
- Computational thinking – Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning.
- New-media literacy – Ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communications.
- Transdisciplinarity – Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
- Design mindset – Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes.
- 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.
- Virtual collaboration – Ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.
Almost all of these map well to established workplace terms, such as:
- Analytical thinking
- People skills
- Outside the box thinking
- Cultural sensitivity
- Quantitative reasoning
- Social media skills
- Design thinking
- Personal productivity
Some of these skills, although not new, are becoming more important. In particularly the desire for people with multidisciplinary background, sometimes called “t-shaped,” is increasing as technologies converge. For example, the job market is starting to demand programmers with design skills, designers with programming skills, IT operations staff with business knowledge and marketers with a strong knowledge of information technology skills. Please see the graphic below to learn more about the Future Work Skills 2020 report.
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