Spaceship engineer, therapist for AI robots, VR services designer, asteroid miner?
Well, maybe these are too crazy if we look 10 years ahead. And probably not much of the future population will ever become asteroid miners anyway. That said, what are the predictions for jobs and skills in the near future?
There are several trends for the future of skills, apart from the obvious one of increased automation taking jobs away from people. Pearson in collaboration with Nesta conducted a study on how employment is likely to change and how it will be relevant to people’s skills by 2030 (Bakhshi et al., 2017). Their report also indicates how specific parts of the labour market are predicted to change.
According to Pearson and Nesta (Bakhshi et al., 2017), there are seven key global trends which will impact employment and future work skills. These are demographic change, globalisation, technological change, political uncertainty, increasing inequality, urbanisation and environmental sustainability.
It was found that interpersonal skills (e.g. teaching, social perceptiveness and coordination) will be valued most in the future workplace. There will also be an emphasize on higher-cognitive skills, such as originality, fluency of ideas and active learning (Bakhshi et al., 2017).
The boundary between work skills and skills gained outside of the professional life is becoming blurry. Additionally, increased automation, shifts in the work culture and new organizational models are becoming drivers of change when it comes to future skills. In the report by the Institute for the Future (IFTF.org, 2016) about future skills, the skills are divided into personal skills, people skills, applied knowledge and workplace skills. The listed abilities are believed to be key in order to thrive in the future employment and society.
The most important personal skill will be resilience — the ability to cope with and adapt to changes in the workplace, which means being able to deal with extra responsibilities and amount of stress associated with high expectations. People skills include cross-cultural competency, social intelligence and virtual collaboration. It shows that a good, engaged employer will be a team player who will be able to collaborate with different people on different levels and in various conditions, who will additionally value social connections and will be able to take other people’s perspective (IFTF.org, 2016).
To be a valuable future employee, people will also need to have an ability of novel and adaptive thinking applied in unfamiliar situations, ability to manage the cognitive load (which is the information overload coming from the internet and people around us). Another, pretty basic but desired future skill, will be sense-making. Linked to the previous skill, it is about being able to adapt to unexpected circumstances and ambiguous problems (IFTF.org, 2016).
The last type of skills listed by IFTF are workplace skills. It is not surprising that as digital media develops, employees will be expected to use more and more sophisticated methods of visual communication, at the same time expressing their message clearly and in an appealing way. This skill is called new media literacy. The next listed workplace skill is (can’t hide my pride and relief) design mindset. Design thinking is said to be a ‘prerequisite skill for success’ in a world where we can translate any challenge into a design problem, especially in the near future. Hopefully it means designers like myself will be better understood and listened to within organisations. Transdisciplinary approaches will also be preferred in the future. It means that employees who are eager to learn and to understand areas of expertise other than one’s own will be more valued. Last but not least — computational thinking. This skill is based around algorithms, visualizing data, organising data and evaluating it to identify possible solutions (IFTF.org, 2016).
All in all — if you want to have a career in the future — be perfect and work like a machine. Although on the other hand, people will need to be able to represent skills which will complement what machines cannot do. It means that in the age of robots and AI people will have to upskill, in a way, to become more human. All those human abilities to make sense of information, to design solutions to complex problems and to interact with one another on an efficient level, will be our advantage.
Bakhshi, H., Downing, J., Osborne, M. and Schneider, P. (2017). The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030. London: Pearson and Nesta
IFTF.org (2016). [online] Available at: http://www.iftf.org/fileadmin/user_upload/downloads/wfi/ACTF_IFTF_FutureSkills-report.pdf [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].