Since we’re in the midst of the transformative impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the time is now to start preparing for the future of work. Even just five years from now, more than one-third of the skills we believe are essential for today’s workforce will have changed according to the Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum. Fast-paced technological innovations mean that most of us will soon share our workplaces with artificial intelligences and bots, so how can you stay ahead of the curve? Start by adopting a commitment to lifelong learning so you can acquire the skills you will need to succeed in the future workplace.
Human workers in the future will need to be creative to fully realize the benefits of all the new things for the future—new products, ways of working and technologies. Robots currently can’t compete with humans on creativity. The future workplace is going to demand new ways of thinking, and human creativity is the key to it.
Emotional intelligence (EQ)
A person’s ability to be aware of, control and express their own emotions as well as being cognizant of the emotions of others describes their emotional intelligence. You exhibit high emotional intelligence if you have empathy, integrity and work well with others. A machine can’t easily replace a human’s ability to connect with another human being, so those who have high EQs will be in demand.
Analytical (critical) thinking
A person with critical thinking skills can suggest innovative solutions and ideas, solve complex problems using reasoning and logic and evaluate arguments. The first step in critical thinking is to analyse the flow of information from various resources. After observing, someone who is a strong analytical thinker will rely on logical reasoning rather than emotion, collect the pros/cons of a situation and be open-minded to the best possible solution. People with strong analytic thinking will be needed to navigate the human/machine division of labour.
Active learning with a growth mindset
Anyone in the future of work needs to actively learn and grow. A person with a growth mindset understands that their abilities and intelligence can be developed and they know their effort to build skills will result in higher achievement. They will, therefore, take on challenges, learn from mistakes and actively seek new knowledge.
Judgment and decision making
Human decision-making will become more complex in the future workplace. While machines and data can process information and provide insights that would be impossible for humans to gather, ultimately, a human will need to make the decision recognizing the broader implications the decision might have on other areas of business, personnel and the effect on other more human sensibilities such as morale. As technology takes away more menial and mundane tasks, it will leave humans to do more higher-level decision-making.
Interpersonal communication skills
The ability to exchange information and meaning between people will be a vital skill during the 4th industrial revolution. This means people should hone their ability to communicate effectively with other human beings so that they are able to say the right things, using the right tone of voice and body language, in order to bring their messages across.
Traits you commonly associate with leadership such as being inspiring and helping others become the best versions of themselves will be necessary for the future workforce. While today’s typical organizational chart might not be as prevalent, individuals will take on leadership roles on project teams or work with other employees to tackle issues and develop solutions.
Diversity and cultural intelligence
As our world and workplaces become more diverse and open, it is vital that individuals have the skills to understand, respect and work with others despite differences in race, culture, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, political or religious beliefs, etc. The ability to understand and adapt to others who might have different ways of perceiving the world will not only improve how people interact within the company but is also likely to make a company’s products and services more inclusive and successful.
The 4th industrial revolution is fuelled by technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality, blockchains, and more. This means that everyone will need a certain level of comfort around technology. At the most basic level, employees in most roles will be required to access data and determine how to act on it. This requires some technical skills. On a more fundamental level, everyone needs to be able to understand the potential impact of new technologies on their industry, business, and job.
Due to the speed of change in the future workplace, people will have to be agile and able to embrace and celebrate change. Not only will our brains need to be flexible, but we’ll also need to be adaptable as we are required to adjust to shifting workplaces, expectations, and skill-sets. An essential skill during the 4th industrial revolution will be the ability to see change not as a burden but as an opportunity to grow and innovate.
Since the half-life of a skill has dropped from 30 years to an average of 6 years, it’s time for all of us to begin acquiring skills that will make us valuable resources in the future workplace. What skill is the first one you plan to tackle?
Written by Bernard Marr. First published in Forbes April 2019