7 Job Skills You Need for The Future

Google’s senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Bock has said, “GPA’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless.” and “You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.”

As indicated by Laszlo Bock, prospective employers have become increasingly concerned about the job readiness of students and have voiced their concerns publicly. We need to listen to your future employers: How can you be prepared for the job market if the metrics we use are deemed “worthless”? It is time to listen and make changes.

So, what are employers looking for? We’ve identified seven job skills you are sure to need for the future.

1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Before you can solve a problem, you must be able to critically analyze the situation at large and ask “What is causing the problem that needs to be solved?” Above all, this skill set lays the foundation for innovation using design thinking.

You need to be able to look for potential problems before they even arise. You need the ability to question an issue and criticize it before you can innovate and discover an alternative.

Design thinking asks you to discover, interpret, ideate, prototype, and test. Not just once, but iteratively, applying your critical thinking and problem solving skills again and again. The best solutions are the ones that continue to evolve, along with the problems you are trying to address.

2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence

A very recent change in the traditional workforce is the emergence of non-permanent, remote, and contract workers–meaning more people are working from home and co-working spaces. Over the next five years, a contingent workforce is expected to make up at least 40% of the average company’s total workforce.

According to a New Horizons report on education, there will be an increased focus on global online collaboration, where digital tools are used to support interactions around curricular objectives and promote intercultural understanding focused on leading by influence and not authority.

The new global, collaborative workforce means you must be able to lead through influence while being respectful of others and their culture.

3. Agility and Adaptability

You have been born into a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Because of this, you must be able to adapt and re-define your strategy on the fly.

Learning a repetitive skill is no longer as beneficial; you must learn skills and mindsets on-demand and have the ability to set aside ones that are no longer useful or required. With the ever changing and unpredictable world we live in today, it is no longer about finding the only right way or the only solutions, it’s about adapting to situations as they arise and discovering new approaches as they are needed.

4. Initiative and Entrepreneurship

Business leaders are struggling to find employees who consistently seek out new opportunities, ideas, and strategies for improvement.

With an emphasis on short-term tests and knowledge, most classes have not been designed to inspire self-starters and innovators. The need for initiative and entrepreneurship within the workforce means that, as students, you must seek out opportunities, take the lead, and try new things.

Whether you’re designing a project, working with a mentor, putting yourself out there with your peers, exposing yourself to big ideas, or intentionally taking on new challenges, cultivating your ability to set fear aside and say “yes” is going to take your far in the future.

5. Effective Oral and Written Communication

A study by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills showed that around 89% of employer respondents report high school graduate entrants as deficient in communication.

Clear communication is not just a matter of the proper use of language and grammar. Communicating clearly is an extension of thinking clearly.

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson famously said, “Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” Like many, he has noted it is a skill that can be learned and consequently used to open yourself up to many opportunities.

The ability to think critically, collaboratively approach problems, and then communicate ideas clearly, is paramount for today’s workforce–and that isn’t expected to change.

6. Assessing and Analyzing Information

Every day, humanity creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Big data describes the collection of complex and large data sets so much so, that it’s difficult to capture, process, store, search, and analyze using a conventional database system. It uses are shaping the world around us, offering more qualitative insights into everyday life.

While access to information has dramatically increased, so has access to misinformation. While navigating the digital world, you must be prepared to assess and analyze information with an objective perspective in order to make use of the enormous amount of data being collected.

7. Curiosity and Imagination

Curiosity is a powerful driver of knowledge and innovation–it’s about discovery. It is by channeling a child-like sense of awe and wonder that you can begin to imagine something better. It takes a powerful imagination to envision breakthroughs and have the skills to execute them successfully.

Deloitte revealed that “39% of jobs in the legal sector could be automated in the next 10 years. Separate research has concluded that accountants have a 95% chance of losing their jobs to automation in the future.”

What can not be replaced by automation are the skills we’re highlighting, with a heavy emphasis on creativity and imagination.

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