The Future Work Skills report predicts that six trends will dominate the job market over the next 10 years. To be successful, employees will need to acquire 10 key skills.
Sense-making: while computers can automate certain tasks or jobs, they can’t perform reasoned analysis, which is where humans excel.
Social intelligence: working effectively with large groups of people involves the ability to adapt language and behaviour.
Adaptive thinking: finding solutions to unexpected situations, whether these occur in high-skill professional / technical roles or in lower-skill roles.
Cross-cultural competency: being able to work not just in different linguistic or cultural settings, but in groups including different generations or people with varied skills and working styles.
Virtual collaboration: adopting strategies for virtual team working, such as providing immediate feedback or staged challenges.
Computational thinking: with increased data comes the need to understand it, and to make decisions based on it.
New media literacy: producing content with non-text communication, such as video or audio.
Cognitive load management: using filtering techniques and tools to deal with the information overload caused by huge amounts of data.
Transdisciplinarity: working longer or in multiple careers means having a deep understanding in one field, as well as familiarity with a broader range of disciplines.
Design mindset: as physical environments affect mood, the ability to plan work environments for different tasks or work processes will allow employees to perform better.
What does this mean for today’s graduates?
Be prepared for lifelong learning
University is a great opportunity to make long-lasting contacts, but your first degree is not the end of your education. Learn new skills and keep up-to-date with new communication tools and technologies.
Know what’s happening inside your own sector, but gain exposure to other industries and disciplines to stay relevant as you progress or change career.
Manage your career
The traditional job or career for life is an increasing rarity. Automation and offshoring will mean some jobs will disappear. Understand how change affects your job or industry and adapt where necessary.
Be vigilant with your online reputation. Manage it with care – not just to safeguard your image, but to make contacts in different companies and sectors, or to find collaborators for personal side projects.
Improve your critical thinking skills
In The Start Up of You, Thomas Friedman writes:
“What’s most striking when you talk to employers is how many have used the recession to become more productive – deploying more automation technologies, software, outsourcing, robotics to make better products with reduced head count. While many are hiring, they are increasingly picky. They’re all looking for the same kind of people – people who not only have the critical thinking skills to do the value-adding jobs that technology can’t, but also people who can invent, adapt and reinvent their jobs every day, in a market that changes faster than ever.”
Learn to make decisions in the absence of adequate data. Penelope Trunk, founder of Brazen Careerist, identifies decision-making as particularly difficult for Generation Y, who tend towards crowd-sourcing. Develop your decision-making skills through small projects or entrepreneurial activity.
Use gap-years, career breaks and sabbaticals to gain knowledge of different cultures. Volunteering also helps you expand contacts and broaden your experience.
Reading widely and following the leading thinkers in your sector and industry (think the Guido Fawkeses and Clay Shirkys of the world) is another good way of keeping up with current and forthcoming trends. Experts’ blogs, Twitter feeds and conferences, for example, can be a great mine of ideas and knowledge if you’re trying to future-proof your skills and career.