The Skills for the Future

The Skills for the Future

In the 20th century, leaders identified goals for their organisation, described the jobs required to meet those goals, and hired people with the right skills to fill those job descriptions. Over time, people build on their skills and move into different roles, climbing a well-designed career ladder until retirement.

That’s no longer the case.

Our world is changing so fast that neither goals nor roles are clear and well-defined. The skills you need for the future aren’t the same as the skills you have now, and the best people have multiple careers (not even just multiple jobs) over their working life.

It’s impossible to know exactly what skills we will need in the future, but we can be reasonably confident they won’t be technical, task-oriented skills – because those skills will become obsolete through automation and artificial intelligence. Instead, the most future-proof skills will be higher-order thinking skills.

The Institute for the Future (based at the University of Phoenix, USA) has identified ten such skills . They identified these skills by examining six global megatrends and drivers of change, and assessing the skills most valuable for coping with (and leading) these trends.

The Institute for the Future doesn’t group the ten skills in any particular order, but it makes sense to do so, based on how these skills apply to you. Broadly, think of them at three levels:

  1. Assimilation: The first three skills – Cognitive Load Management, Computational Thinking, and Novel & Adaptive Thinking – are about absorbing information from the outside world.
  2. Integration: The next three skills – Sense-making, Transdisciplinarity, and Design Mindset – are about applying information to the outside world.
  3. Collaboration: The final four skills – Social Intelligence, New Media Literacy, Virtual Collaboration, and Cross-Cultural Competency – are about relationships with other people.

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