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What is the most important skill to develop for jobs of the future?

by Claire Newdigate | Social Media & Digital Marketing |

It is hard to imagine a world different to the one we live in, but for the first time ever, we can really refer back just one generation and speak of ‘The Olden Days’. This can be very confusing for young people preparing themselves for a future career. How do you prepare yourself for something that does not exist?

Looking at the top jobs in 2019, here are some that were not around 10 or 15 years ago:

  • App developers

  • Social Media Managers

  • CLO – Chief Listening Officers

  • Uber drivers

  • Driverless car engineers

  • Cloud Computing specialists

  • Big Data analyst/data scientist

  • Sustainability Manager

  • YouTube content creators

  • Drone Operator

We also know that within the next 10 – 15 years, there are going to be a whole set of jobs we can only imagine (and possibly many we can’t yet imagine), in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Cloud Technology, Blockchain and Bioengineering. How do you prepare for a career that does not yet exist?

If we compare the top skills that were required in the job market in 2015 to those required in 2020, according to a report by the World Economic Forum we can see a definite trend.

1. The Human Element:

Skills that require a human element, or component are the number one skills you need to focus on. Artificial intelligence may be quicker than human intelligence, it may be more accurate, and it may be able to achieve much more than humans can in a 5 – 15 minute timespan, but it has no emotion and no driving force other than that which we program it to be able to do. AI cannot create anything that we don’t tell it to create because it does not have a need for anything, therefore it cannot anticipate what humans will require over time.

2. Complex Problem Solving:

Complex problem solving was no 1 on the list in 2015 and remains there for 2020. It is not about sifting through data, it’s about anticipating a potential need and problem and finding a creative way of solving it even before it arises.

3. Creativity and strategic creative thinking:

Creativity was 10th on the list in 2015, but it goes up to 3rd place in 2020, and will possibly become the singularly most sought-after skill in years to come. No matter how well we program AI, creativity is not something that can be programmed. Creativity can only stem from a need to solve a human problem, and since AI has no need for anything, it cannot anticipate a human outcome.

4. Emotional Intelligence did not feature as a top skill in 2015 but rises to 6th place in 2020. Similar to creativity, empathy can only be programmed to a certain degree. If humans find it hard to read a fellow human’s needs, it will be almost impossible for AI to fully grasp the nuances of human interaction. Learning to read and respond to others in a caring, empathetic manner will put future job applicants at the top of the list according to studies conducted by Daniel Goleman in conjunction with the Harvard Business School.

What can you do cultivate the right skill set that will make you a sought-after asset in any field?

Work on the aspects that make us human:

  • Find courses to help boost your creative skills

  • Take up a creative hobby such as music or art, or start writing a blog

  • Solve mind games (puzzles, Sudoku, riddles, etc)

  • Play more

  • Spend less time on Social Media and more time talking to fellow humans

  • Become more empathetic with people by volunteering for a good cause

  • Interact face to face with people outside of your comfort zone more regularly

These skills, along with the hard skills you acquire through constant studying and upgrading the knowledge you require in your field of choice, will help you get the edge over others (and AI competitors) in years to come.

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