We have started to reform the education system, taking the time to think about the skills our children will need in the future but when the education system fails to keep pace with the rapidly evolving world the result is inequality. “Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer and enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart”* All of the world will be run by computers and humans will have nothing to do but sit around on social media sharing photos of what they ate, what they are wearing, where they are going and who they are seeing. Meaningful work will cease to exist and corporations will be owned and run by the elusive few who hold the power and the on/off buttons for the technology driven corporations. WHOA, stop the doom and gloom for a second. The future is already here and it really isn’t that scary. Yes technology is automating great deals of processes in organisations, and the businesses are reaping FTE benefits along with productivity and efficiency boosts, but new roles are being created every single day. So stop your worrying, dust off your reading spectacles and get your learning pants on because the top skills for future proofing your employability (surely that’s a real word?) are simple skills and mindsets that you can adopt to upgrade your thinking and survive this digital age.
Regardless of your role, your industry there are a few skills that will arm you with the right mindset to navigate fast paced change and ensure you are still in the employed category as your organisation inevitably leverages new tech and super smart AI to automate processes and create new ways of working. I’ve kept it to a top 5 and you can start learning these skills right now, here we go:
To Learn UNLEARN and RELEARN on repeat — you must teach the old dog new tricks! The age old ‘can’t learn’ has been proven as nonsense by neuroscientists and educational professionals. Not only are we constantly growing new brain, the brain is malleable and capable of magnificent architecture at any age. The trick to setting yourself up for success here is to understand your preferred learning style and learning modalaties and understand any challenges you may face (we are discovering more about learning disorders every single day and know that a large proportion of adults have some learning disorders that have never been detected or diagnosed!). Being curious and becoming a lifelong learner is a great way to start your journey to the safe zone.
Design Thinking — Now that you know how you like to learn and whether you need to learn in a specific way for it to all be processed and stored effectively, do your future employable self a favour and google ‘design thinking course’ — Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. … Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be — and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user.** Originally used by designers in tech, this awesome mindset can be applied to any problem from raising your family to solving complex work problems to reengineering your job to add value and stay employed.
Process Mapping — Understanding process engineering and process design helps us see the world in a clearer and more interactive way. When we see that everything in life is a process, we understand that we can create innovative change through process reengineering or process improvement. Taking time to learn how to effectively process map creates neural networks that will be useful as the world takes a new shape!
Computational Thinking — Computational thinking takes design thinking and process thinking and encourages the brain to go to a new level of detail. Computational thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating a problem and expressing its solution(s) in such a way that a computer — human or machine — can effectively carry out. Why is this important? We all know that coding is an incredible skill that will be vital in a technology infused and connected world, computational thinking enables humans to connect the dots for humans and technology. Grab a coderpillar from fisher-price and see how you can start to think in a future oriented, process driven, creative and computational way!
Meditation — If you haven’t read about the benefits of meditation, you are probably one of the people who needs it the most. In a connected and over processed world, our minds are getting a serious work out. Some studies suggest the human brain can cope with 24 hours of the type of work we do these days a week, while we extend the battery life and push ourselves to conform to 40 hour plus work weeks. Our brains need rest, play, sleep and meditation and this is a skill that can also improve your cognition! “In a 2010 study published in Consciousness and Cognition Journal, researchers assigned 24 people in the intervention group. They received four sessions of mindfulness meditation training. The control had 25 people, and this group listened to an audio book. Results showed that both the mindfulness meditation training group and the control group showed improved mood, but only meditation training reduced fatigue and anxiety and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory and executive functioning. Researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that four days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.””***
So there you have it, they aren’t so scary now are they?? In fact, they are kind of cool skills to have under your belt right? If you’d like to know a little more about what the future may look like, check out this future work skills report -“In the 1990s, IBM’s Deep Blue beat grandmaster Gary Kasparov in chess; today IBM’s Watson supercomputer is beating contestants on Jeopardy. A decade ago, workers worried about jobs being outsourced overseas; today companies such as ODesk and LiveOps can assemble teams “in the cloud” to do sales, customer support, and many other tasks. Five years ago, it would have taken years for NASA to tag millions of photographs taken by its telescope, but with the power of its collaborative platforms, the task can be accomplished in a few months with the help of thousands of human volunteers. Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.” The final skill that I believe will enable us as productive contributors is mind control, not of others, but of self. When we understand how we think, why we think what we think we start to see how our thinking shapes our behaviours, our outcomes, our lives – we then gain control of the most important output of all, the quality of our life.
*The Economist, January “Lifelong Learners”