Experts are predicting that automation will make its way to the general workforce as early as 2020. With robotics and AI progressing by leaps and bounds within the last decade, we really can’t deny that this might be the future that’s awaiting all of us. In the coming decades, machines will be doing most specialized and manual work; while we humans will need to adapt and move on to new careers.
We came up with this list so that we can start working on them today. You really won’t be that surprised that some of the skills to be mentioned have already been part of our repertoire for quite some time. Nonetheless, you might also be astonished at how much the development of these skills was taken for granted for so long, even though these competencies will eventually define how we will work in the future.
There will also be new skills that hinge on the advances in technology. These competencies weren’t even around a decade ago; but will be ever-defining skills to be competitive in the future workforce. With these in mind, there is now a definite need to polish these competencies and deepen our understanding of how our careers depend on them.
Without further ado, here’s the list of what we believe will be the top ten employability skills for the future workforce:
Top 10 Employability Skills for the Future Workforce
One of the biggest predictions is that the future global economy will be made up mostly of creative output. Industries that have a ‘human touch’ such as advertising, arts, design, music, and publishing will be left mostly untouched by automation. Come to think of it, even we humans have a hard time comprehending what makes things ‘beautiful’ and ‘compelling’, machines are a very long way from it.
Humanity’s use of innovation and imagination in developing creative solutions just cannot be replicated. Creativity is one of the keys to human survival and dominance – and for a good reason. It has allowed us to improve our quality of life and push the envelope in going beyond what was always assumed as ‘humanly impossible.’
Creative thinking is one of the professional skills that will be most sought-after by future employers. As one of the integral skills for employment, it would be a good idea for us to start honing our creativity even more as early as now.
2. Complex Problem Solving
Another skill in our list of employability skills of the future involves finding creative solutions through problem-solving. Solving problems can actually be done by automation; and in some cases, machines might even prove to be better than us humans. Machines are most effective in problem-solving scenarios that involve choosing preset actions dictated by standard procedures.
However (and that is a big however), most problems don’t fall under any pre-set configurations or procedures. Most problems involve complex scenarios that bring about more elaborate consequences – all of which cannot be defined by parameters of 1s and 0s or any mathematical algorithms. Oftentimes, problems have no rational answers at all!
Now, this is where humans have a big advantage over the automatons. We have the ability to perceive different unstated factors and considerations when solving problems. Things like empathy, interpersonal sensitivity, ethics, and morality are some examples of implied elements of decision-making that only we humans can discern.
Being keen and sensitive to these factors will make complex problem solving one of the most sought-after employability skills for the future workforce.
3. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to identify problems, gather information, and make sense of data to find viable solutions. The most important factor though is the ability to recognize implicit assumptions and identify significance of certain details on the issue. The human advantage is the ability to perceive how “everything” is connected with each other. To add, critical thinking also demands awareness that details shouldn’t be taken at face value.
Gauging priorities, gathering information, and interpreting data can be easily done through automation. Nevertheless, critical thinking is still part of this list for human employability skills of the future. This is due to the fact that making sense of all the complex relationships, interrelated propositions, and implicit assumptions when facing issues allow us to better prioritize and interpret information and use them to come up with the best solution to a presented problem.
4. Virtual Collaboration
Advances in technology have allowed people across the globe to work together through remote virtual teams. This has then opened the workplace to more diversity – being able to work with different people from divergent cultures, across different time zones and geographical areas.
Of course, face-to-face interaction will still be the top choice in workplace communication. Nevertheless, we really can’t blame organizations wanting to employ the best workers on the planet – while looking for the most efficient and cost-effective way to make the remote workforce system work.
Virtual collaboration is one of the employee skills that we need to adopt as early as now. Aside from the usual tools and processes, soft skills in the workplace are also needed for this. Skills for employees of virtual teams include, but are not limited to, collaboration, cross-cultural sensitivity, and adaptability to a multi-cultural environment.
5. Social Intelligence
Here’s another one of these future skills employers want – social intelligence. Also generally known as ‘People Skills,’ social intelligence pertains to the way we are able to go about complex social relationships. Simply put, it is our aptness to associate with other people.
People skills are also closely linked to emotional intelligence – which is the recognition of our own and other people’s emotions and handling them appropriately. Social intelligence is definitely one of the skills you need for a job in the future because it will absolutely be needed for interaction with clients, customers, and peers; especially when most interactions will already happen online.
6. New Media Literacy
Today’s definition of computer-literacy is obsolete. Gone are the days when the ability to operate the computer and use office-related applications are the only skills needed for a successful career. Literacy to new media is definitely one of the more important employability skills for the future.
The use of different digital media is slowly becoming the standard of ‘computer literacy.’ These new media include, but are not limited to, blogging, social media, online publications, digital games, and virtual reality, just to name a few.
Skills for the future workforce would somehow merit leveraging these so that employees can conveniently transact with customers or each other on the aforementioned platforms.
7. Lifelong Learning
Employment skills for the future require one to be a lifelong learner. This kind of an educational mindset means that a person becomes a self-directed learner, able to operate without set agendas or curriculums – just an attitude to learn what is or will be needed.
Personal and professional development and anticipation of skills for the future will be one of the defining skills of the future workforce. Commitment to lifelong learning also brings about other competencies and attitudes like having a growth mindset, iterative thinking, and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities – and these are some employability skills for the future.
8. User Experience (UX) Mindset
It is said that most of the customer-service related jobs will be automated within the next few years. Just imagine there wouldn’t be anyone to talk to over the phone, or even personally, about concerns and issues. Every transaction would go through pre-recorded, automated responses.
What would be missed is the total customer / user experience. And this is why there would be a high demand for people with user experience mindsets, especially designers. The future will require products or processes to be specifically designed so that the end user would be more satisfied with quality and usability at the onset rather than having to go through the entire customer service process.
9. Design Thinking
Another one of the cutting-edge employability skills of the future is design. Design thinking takes a different approach when analyzing situations and solving problems. Aside from the usual, structured, problem solving and analytical approaches, design thinking draws more on ‘business soft skills’ rather than the technical ones.
For example, aside from using approaches in engineering or software programming, design thinking also utilizes creativity, systemic reasoning, and intuition in developing creative solutions.
10. Responsible Digital Citizenship
In a world where the boundaries between the virtual and the physical world are blurred, responsible digital citizenship is another one of those must-have employability skills for the future. Responsible digital citizenship means using online resources responsibly.
For example, a responsible digital citizen can distinguish between fake and real information found on the web. In addition, a responsible netizen has genuine concern for other users and would know how to handle malicious websites, fake news, malevolent beings and trolls in the online sphere.
With laws changing due to the ever-increasing influence of the internet, there will come a time when a person’s digital footprint will also be a substantial component of hiring and employability.
Why is this future employment skills list so important today?
The next few years will be the most crucial in ensuring that we still get to retain our livelihood come the next few decades. This is why as early as now, we need to equip ourselves with the top employability skills for the future – future skills that will keep us competitive in a very high-tech workforce.
We hope that this employability skills list was able to help you figure out what new skills you need to learn and what other competencies you need to work on. With automation threatening human jobs – the ones that we currently have – we always need to upgrade ourselves and develop the skills that are desperately needed for the future workforce.