Written by Victor Alagbe
Nine years from now, by the year 2030, it is likely that most people will be working in jobs that do not even exist today. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, 40% of employees can expect the core skills needed in their jobs to change and as much as 50% of all employees will need some sort of reskilling by 2025, as the adoption of technology increases.
The future of work is clear- machines and algorithms will continue to make several job functions redundant. Scary, right? Not to worry. It is not all gloom and doom for workers because humans still have an innate edge over machines and computers in deploying creativity, innovation, empathy, intuition as well as social and emotional intelligence among other things.
In this post, I explore the future of skills to highlight some of the most important skills that will be required in order to stay relevant and valuable in our careers in an increasingly volatile, complex, and uncertain world.
The Future of Skills in Four Major Classes
It is somewhat difficult to make a list of all the skills that will be required to stay relevant in the workplace of the future. However, most future skills can be grouped into the four broad classes below:
- Problem-solving skills.
- Self-management skills.
- People-management skills.
- Technology use and development skills.
Technology is expected to continue augmenting some job roles especially the ones relating to hard quantitative or objective functions. However, there will still be lots of opportunities for humans to demonstrate problem-solving skills in soft, qualitative, subjective and intuitive aspects of jobs.
For problem-solving skills, we will need to develop an ability to creatively come up with the most efficient steps that will lead to successful outcomes by understanding the complexity of the problem situation, the connections between involved variables, the opacity of systems and the multiplicity of goals.
Future problem-solving will require creativity, originality, innovation as well as analytical and critical thinking skills.
The Covid-19 pandemic has already changed the future of work by forcing organizations to experiment with and embrace remote, distributed, and decentralized workforces. However, as the future of work provides employees with increasing autonomy, employers will expect their workers to possess and demonstrate self-management skills in taking ownership of their work.
For self-management skills, it is likely that the days of doing a job merely to earn a pay-check are numbered as automation makes many low-cognition jobs redundant. Hence, we can expect job roles to become increasingly mission-driven and tied to a sense of purpose for employees.
Some of the self-management skills that may feature prominently in the future of skills include but is not limited to:
- Fluency of ideas.
- Active learning and re-learning of strategies.
- Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.
We are living in the era of information revolution, which contrasts sharply with how people lived and worked during the industrial revolution and the 19th century. The workplace is evolving into organizations of networked individuals and intra-organizational entrepreneurs who operate in fluid positions within project-based teams without strict organisational charts and hierarchical structures.
For skills related to working with people, taking a personality test to identify your DISC, Enneagram, and Myers-Briggs personality type may be a great way to start, as it could potentially help you to understand yourself and others better to reduce and resolve conflicts. Similarly, employers will value the ability to share productive dialogue through listening to others, sharing their own ideas, and fostering a collaborative environment.
To work effectively in decentralized, distributed, inclusive and diverse teams, employees will need to acquire or improve their skills in:
- Leadership and social influence.
- Emotional and social intelligence.
- Systems and processes evaluation.
Technology Use and Development Skills
Coding, automation, data analytics, digital platforms and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work. The ability to understand these shifts, interpret what these trends mean for your role and your organization, and the ability to participate actively in a technology-driven world might, in the near future, make all the difference between people who advance in their careers and people who get stuck.
In acquiring IT skills for the future of work, you do not necessarily need to become a computer scientist but it might become important to know how to interact with code or low-code solutions and how to integrate data analytics into your decision-making processes.
While you do not need to retrain as a programmer, machine learning expert or data analyst, the future of skills will require you to possess a basic knowledge of:
- Technology design and programming.
- Technology use, monitoring and control.
In conclusion, this post is not an exhaustive compilation of all the skills that will be needed for continued relevance and effectiveness in the workplace as the world continues to change. We must also acknowledge that different occupations, industries, and economies might need a different mix of these skills in varying degrees of application.
However, committing to acquiring these skills and working with them will potentially make us more valuable in our workplaces and we will be keeping with the injunction in Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” ESV