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How to future-proof your career

skills for the future

For today’s students, figuring out what to study is a big, hairy challenge.

Machines are on the verge of taking the jobs that their parents had, data mining is changing our relationships with brands, and even things like law or coding — relatively safe bets in the past — are changing.

So, how do we prepare for the robot revolution? The answer, it seems, may lie into learning into our inherent humanity. Here’s why.

Future-proofing your career

Work is changing

Technology, of course, reshapes every job. Some people believe that there will be no work in the future — but, chances are, we’ll all need to do some sort of job for the foreseeable future.

For example, work stands to become more fluid — focused more on mission-based teams, rather than rigid org charts.

Additionally, the gig economy isn’t going anywhere either, so future workers can expect to earn money from various sources — often working remotely on their own or with a changing cast of characters.

According to Deloitte’s Future of Work report, the skills of the future tend to fall into this “soft skills” category.

If you look at the skills we’ve outlined below, you’ll notice that things like being able to work with others bring big advantages to workers, same goes for flexibility, problem-solving, and creativity.

With that in mind—we may need to lend the liberal arts some respect that they haven’t seen in a long time. Here is a look at some of the skills that are increasingly in-demand.

Most-coveted work skills of the future

Creativity

Creativity is no longer exclusively the domain of painters and novelists. Rather, it’s a leg up when you can work alongside algorithms. Thinking in abstract terms, creating original content, and coming up with novel solutions to complex problems are valued skills when nothing is certain but change.

Teamwork

Social skills, of course, rule in the age of automation  Learning to manage teams, work collaboratively, and use your empathy at work will all help you go far in the workplace of tomorrow.

Problem-solving

Technology is bound to make things easier, as well as more complicated. Human workers will need to be able to analyze technology’s performance and its impact on the people its supposed to help.

Cognitive flexibility

Cognitive flexibility is a big one as the pace of tech-driven change has increased dramatically. So, the expectation that you enter a career and stop taking classes or earning certifications no longer makes sense.

So, where should we focus our efforts?

Students still face some tricky decisions. This McKinsey interview asked a panel of experts what, exactly, should incoming students study in college?

While all had different answers, there was this sense of agreement — students should develop core skills that can fit in anywhere. Things like being creative, being able to write and persuade, may serve students better than preparing for a specific career path.

The other thing we keep seeing over and over is this idea that humans need to develop their human talents and learn to use them in a range of diverse settings.

But, this also means people need to have a clear understanding of how their skills fit in with the skills that AI brings to the table.

According to Pew, experts seem to believe that technological advancements will push governments, educational institutions, and the private sector to create more educational and training opportunities that support flexible, lifelong learning, as it will no longer be reserved for those people who want to earn a promotion or change careers.

Final thoughts

In looking at the skills with a rising profile, there’s a sense of optimism there. Social skills, collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving are these very human things — and in the end, make us more valuable to our employers and lay the groundwork for success.

While we may need to adjust our mindset to get used to the idea of an abstract, ever-changing workplace, how we earn a paycheck in five, 10, 20 or years could get a lot more interesting.

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