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Posted at: Jan 9, 2019, 7:51 AM; last updated: Jan 9, 2019, 7:51 AM (IST)

Work skills critical for the jobs of the future

Usha Albuquerque

Looking ahead at 2019 and beyond, is not just about jobs and careers of the future, but  more about how we should prepare ourselves for what could be a completely different world 10 years hence! Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist, nor did Whatsapp! Ten years before that, we didn’t have the Web. Yet today everyone is on a roller coaster speeding ahead to a world where nothing is predictable, nor impossible. 

But what is apparent is that jobs won’t disappear — they will be re-defined, requiring new skill sets. The idea that you get an education when you're young and then you stop and you go and work for 40 or 50 years with that educational training and that’s  over for sure now. All of us are going to have to continue to adapt, get new skills, and possibly go back for different types of training and credentials.

Moreover, the skills set needed for jobs in the future  are changing along with the advancing technology and the digital world. In fact, soft skills  like communication, problem-solving, collaboration and empathy are becoming as much valued as tech savviness. 

In such a world, how do we prepare ourselves  for the jobs of the unknown future ? We can do that by focusing today's learning towards skills required for a evolving and super charged tomorrow:

Social Skills - Communication

It isn't enough just doing engineering,  or some technical course, the better technology gets, the more people will have to focus on their "human skills" to survive in the workforce. As computers get more intelligent, the work that will take over will require human skills like leadership, motivation and emotional intelligence. In fact overall social skills such as persuasion, and teaching others will be in demand across industries, as will cognitive abilities, such as creativity and mathematical reasoning, communication and complex problem solving capabilities. Equally important is Social Intelligence : The ability to connect with others in a deep and direct way to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions ; Cross cultural competence - the ability to operate in different cultural settings; and trans- disciplnary intelligence - literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines

Tips to boost employability  

  • Learn a new language - bilingual employees have a definite advantage in today's global world 
  • Whenever possible, participate in college activities and be a part of the organising committee for college events. These initiatives will teach you values of team work, leadership skills, communication skills and will go a long way in preparing you for the future.
  • Take up a summer internship while you are still studying so that you get hands-on experience of the workings of an industry. This will be taken into account by your hiring manager and will give you an edge over other candidates. 
  • It is vital to keep an open mind and keep learning, throughout your career. Maintain a lifelong learning outlook. It will certainly help improve your employability. 

Technology skills

Starting  with solid technology skills, essential for every student — Digital literacy skills. The digital transformation impacts every industry, and being able to befriend the “machine” is one of the most critical of skills. Just knowing programming languages is not enough. Even today the maximum jobs being lost are in the IT services sector, where applications are being moved to the cloud, and the focus is on machine learning, Internet of  Things (IoT) and data analytics. The ability to embrace technology and machines is about the ability to get stuff done, about knowing the tools and how to use them. They also involve using social media, working with design or video editing software and knowing programming languages. 

Some skills that could be useful in a future technology-driven world:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning: AI is becoming essential for acquiring, storing, transferring and managing the huge amounts of data produced today. AI and machine learning scientists can work within a variety of settings, including private companies, technology companies, production and manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, customer service, finance, construction, government agencies and defence.
  • Coding : An increasing number of businesses are relying on computer code, particularly those involving  Information Technology,  Data Analysis,  design, engineering and pure science.  
  • Digital Marketing: More and more companies are moving their marketing into the digital space for greater reach and access to the needs of customers, their usage of websites and search engines and to optimize online marketing initiatives 
  • Design thinking: Accelerated rates of technological and social change will require more workers to focus on problem finding and problem framing, rather than simply problem solving. Design thinking introduces methods of problem finding and problem framing in the pursuit of emergent innovation.
Some ways to develop or improve your technology skills include:

  • Take up a short or online course in the IT skills you wish to develop
  • Find out what technology will be used in the job you want and how it's used 
  • Take up extra training at work
Critical thinking & complex problem-solving

Although we strongly rely on automated technology for some parts of our work, there are some things a computer just cannot do, such as make executive decisions for us. The Information Age requires a brand-new set of skills involving statistics, probability, cost-benefit analysis, principles of cognitive psychology, logic and dialectical reasoning. You need these skills to be able to  constantly analyze various situations, consider multiple solutions and make decisions through logic and reasoning. 

Problem-solving is a skill we should all possess but as the world advances, we'll be faced with even more difficulties than ever before. In order to find solutions to these problems, you need to have the mental flexibility and proficiency of thinking outside the box, to see the bigger picture and come up with solutions and responses. It involves being able to use a logical process to figure things out. 

Start expanding your brain power and tackling a few issues that have been lingering, and you'll be fully prepared for the future.

Some ways to develop adaptability skills :

Start in small ways like changing your route to work, saying 'yes' to something you might normally say 'no' to automatically, or trying a different and unfamiliar food 

Look for opportunities to try new things that will keep you learning- learn a new skill, make new friends, try a new type of food, take the initiative for starting something new in your college, community. Whenever you encounter a new challenge, make a quick list of some of the potential ways you could solve the problem. Experiment with different strategies and focus on developing a logical way to work through common problems

Undertake exercises that encourage you to work out several COAs (Courses of action) for hypothetical challenging situations.

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