The first and second installment of The Future of Work examined how much meaning people give to their careers and how the technological transformation is expected to affect the workplace of tomorrow. This third installment looks at what skills and education will be necessary to excel in future careers.
While recent years have seen changing trends in education, demand for two particular skills seems to be on the rise.
As technology continues to evolve at exponential speed, a significant skill will be adaptation—essentially, the ability to unlearn and relearn as certain applications evolve and others become obsolete. Mid-career individuals will be expected to keep up as technology evolves, and new workers will be sought out wherever they can be found.
The business world today has a severe shortage of blockchain engineers, as well as engineers and developers with the ability to integrate tech components such as AI, machine learning, and big data. Adaptability will allow us to survive these technological evolutions.
Critical thinking will almost certainly be one of the most sought-after skill sets. As discussed in the second Future of Work article, rapid transformation is expected to create more free time, bring universal basic income, and put more of a focus on ethical leadership and decision-making skills. In hiring practices, age will be eliminated as a factor, along with other formal criteria—whoever is capable of doing a job will be asked to do it. Without critical thinking, ethics, decision-making, and leadership will be difficult to implement.
The New Workforce
Sweden’s economy has enjoyed a much-needed boost through refugees. According to a recent study published in Science Advances, the overall strength and sustainability of the country’s economy improved while unemployment rates dropped. The bottom line? Immigrants and refugees are essential for economic growth.
One of the most significant advantages of accepting refugees and immigrants is that they are looking to be employed as soon as possible in whatever new country they land in. The government can also easily take a direct hand in training them, either in technological innovations or cross-cultural creative projects. Immigrants and refugees alike have the unique opportunity of a blank slate—they can start something new and fill skill gaps. Remember those key skills: adaptability and critical thinking. Almost by definition, immigrants are adaptable. Furthermore, to survive within their new environment, they will need critical thinking to adapt effectively. This makes them ideally suited to the future workforce.
Sir Isaac Asimov famously said:
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
To correct this imbalance, there is likely to be a rise in spiritual education and personal transformation. The Aquarian age will require education that retrains people to thrive and serve in a society which once rejected the importance of soft skills. Spiritual transformation will be important for everyone as hierarchies become less visible. Our needs and urges will no longer be defined by material wealth; people will utilize technology to become more useful to society and the world as a whole. With adaptability and critical thinking, we may be able to survive this era of technological transformation and gain the wisdom we need to evolve.