The professional world is changing at a bizarre speed!
The educational, technical and personal skills needed to meet the challenges of this change are undergoing a major transformation. From the introduction of machines to simplify our jobs, to the complex supercomputers with their incredible operating power and finally to human-like robots, developments of this century have been staggering.
Our lives are changing fast and the virtual reality system has embraced the world as you read this. AI, Robots and driverless cars are here to stay and change things for us. But the point of discussion here is not the change in technology with time. It is about us and our preparation for this change.
The million-dollar question is: Are we indeed ready for the future? Are we equipping our new generation with the right education, skill set and the mindset to embrace the powerful, technology-based future?
Will the education and knowledge they are competing so hard for today be of much use, say, 10 years down the line?
What is the Future of Work?
Do you remember the 1999 Disney film ‘Smart House’? In this film, a house is run by a robot called PAT (Personal Applied Technology), which can receive and respond to voice commands. It can also control settings in the house and perform chores. PAT is even able to learn the habits of the occupants, make phone calls, etc. While in 1999 this may have seemed like the distant future, it is very much a reality today as modern day smart home devices like the Amazon Echo take over.
When kids today watch the Avengers movies, they can imagine a future full of intelligent robots and automated technology.
With so many talks about the future of work involving automation and robots, there is a gnawing fear of job losses and the future might show quite a dismal employment scenario. But the truth is that it is highly unlikely that many occupations will disappear completely. They’ll probably require a change in skills, knowledge and abilities to adapt to the newer technologies.
The future of tomorrow does not replace humans but demands people to have the right technological acumen. To keep pace with the changing world, individuals will need to focus on developing the uniquely human skills identified in researches, such as originality, fluency of ideas, and active listening.
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What are the Changes Today that Can Impact the Future of Jobs?
The Pearson Study
The Pearson study is the most comprehensive research project on the study of ‘Future of Work’. It predicts how major societal and economic trends—and the interactions between them—will affect the future of work.
Preparing people for the jobs of the future is fundamental to Pearson’s mission of enabling people to make progress in their lives through learning. The research was conducted to find out whether many jobs we recognize today would still be in demand by 2030 and beyond.
According to their findings, the following 10 occupations will witness an upsurge in the Future in the US:
- Preschool, Primary, Secondary, And Special Education School Teachers
- Animal Care And Service Workers
- Lawyers, Judges, And Related Workers
- Postsecondary Teachers
- Personal Appearance Workers
- Social Scientists And Related Workers
- Counsellors, Social Workers, And Other Community And Social Service Specialists
- Librarians, Curators, And Archivists
- Entertainers And Performers, Sports And Related Workers
It also concludes that the jobs you have today may require different skills for success tomorrow.
The Skill Set Needed for the Future
The top 10 skills in demand in the future according to the Pearson study are:
1. Learning Strategies
The future-ready learning strategies must select and use training /instructional methods and procedures best-fitted for learning or teaching new things. The top occupation groups that would directly benefit from these skills would be of IT and Mathematics, Education and Training, healthcare, Legal Services and Protective Service Occupations.
The Knowledge of human behaviour and performance along with individual differences in ability, personality, and interests shall go a long way in the future. The learning and motivation through psychological research methods and the assessment and treatment of behavioural and affective disorders will be in greater demand in the future.
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3. Instructional Designing
Teaching others how to do something shall be in demand as more and more people would be needed to train those who’ll be unaware of the new technology. This skill shall be of topmost use in education, training, legal services, healthcare industry, etc.
4. Social Perceptiveness
Another important skill for Legal Occupations, Healthcare Practitioners, Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media, Sales and Related Occupations, social perceptiveness requires being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react in the way they do.
5. Sociology and Anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins- Knowledge of all these shall be in great demand in business and financial occupations, legal services, fisheries, farming, forestry, education and training.
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6. Education and Training
The future skills require knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects. Most industries would benefit from these skills healthcare, management, IT, Media, Business, etc.
To survive in an interdependent future, coordination skill shall be in greater demand than now. Adjusting one’s actions in relation to the actions of others is what coordination requires and in an era of increased specialisation, interdependence and coordination shall become even more imperative.
The newness of ideas in a world continuously changing and being bombarded with constant information cannot be substituted by anything. To develop creative ways to solve a problem or answering your needs is what shall be greatly needed in the coming times. All industries including legal occupations, marketing, healthcare practitioners, business and financial operations, life, physical and social science occupations need originality to survive in competitive times.
9. Fluency of Ideas
The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic is what fluency of ideas means- the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity. Legal Occupations, Business and Financial Operations, Architecture and Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Occupations, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations all will employ greater fluency of ideas.
10. Active Learning
This refers to understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. Active learning requires a skill set that is pro-active, analytical and adapts critical thinking.
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The Pearson Study also forecasts the impacts of megatrends on real people and the findings provide a roadmap for how to thrive in the future workforce.
According to it, Individuals and employers will need to:
- Develop uniquely human skills– Like originality, fluency of ideas, coordination and active listening.
- Be ready to commit to continuous learning– The pace of economic change all but guarantees that a single degree started in your teens or a career picked in your 20s will not be everlasting. We need to prepare a generation committed to lifelong learning and continuous upgradation.
- Redesign roles to balance technology and human resources– Technology shall be used to supplement unique human skills to maximize productivity. In education, technology shall supplement the educator to personalize learning. This will be true in many other industries as well and employers will need to proactively redesign the jobs most at risk.
- Move beyond the college degree as the primary signal of employability-As education systems offer more flexible and adaptive pathways for learners, employers will also need to learn how to identify and develop talent. The college degree has long been an imperfect signal for employment readiness and this is likely to become even more complex.
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The future-ready skills require that the education system designed 20-30 years ago will need to be redesigned to suit the needs of the next 20-30 years. Teacher education will also require a retooling and a complete revamping.
Read the full Pearson study here.
All degrees of automation and artificial intelligence shall require human initiative and innovation. But eventually, human control shall reign supreme.
For example, we know that eventually, robots will be able to build bridges and diagnose diseases. But ultimately humans will retain the unique ability to engineer a bridge and care for a sick child. How we balance those skills with technology productivity will chart the course of our workforce.