How do we stay competitive in the job market when robots and automation start to do our jobs better and cheaper than us?
Well, we cultivate what makes us human as capital to leverage new opportunities.

How do we do that?
We take advice from the World Economic Forum about what the 10 essential skills of 2020 are and we work on them NOW.

Why?
So we can build a future applying these skills to new pathways and grow as people and professionals.

First, what does the future look like?

  • Greater mobility
  • Digital connectivity
  • Expansive global networks
  • Constant up-skilling
  • Increased autonomy
  • Mix of generations
  • Results driven workplaces
  • People and culture focus
  • Better work-life balance
  • More ethical practices
  • Collaborative working
  • Flexible leadership styles

To be ready for this kind of future, we need new skill sets that are more rounded and flexible – encompassing both professional and personal domains. Here are the WEF’s 10 essential skills and why they make sense for a future economy:

1. Complex problem solving
Why? Products, services and markets change frequently in the age of innovation. Technology is advancing and our future economy is marked by dwindling resources and a call for more ethical production. An emphasis on building ‘value networks’ also means we must rethink our current structures and work collaboratively on solutions to suit constantly fluctuating markets.

2. Critical thinking
Why? Critical thinking is a skill that means we ’wipe the lens to see more clearly’. When we are thinking critically we examine more objectively – without impassioned or emotional chatter to cloud our judgement. This is essential when evaluating and making clear, rational decisions – which will become increasingly important in an uncertain and competitive future.

3. Creativity
Why? With the avalanche of new products, services, business models and technologies, teams will need to be more creative to stay competitive. Disruptors in industry are becoming increasingly common, and demand that teams continue to innovate. Innovation starts with creative thinking and while robots are replacing some work functions, robots are not yet creative thinkers!

4. People management
Why? People management is vital to productivity and a quality customer experience is an extension of this. When we are taking care of our people, we are investing in a sustainable future and creating loyal ‘brand ambassadors’. Companies who care for and respond to the needs of their people are promoting both tangible and intangible benefits now and into the future.

5. Coordinating with Others
Why? Collaboration is the way forward. The silo mentality is out and teams will work together to innovate and find solutions. Because of the fast-moving, competitive nature of industry, it is essential that teams are ‘playing to win’ together – to stay ahead of the curve and navigate the ebb and flow of market trends. Teams may also be working remotely or navigating multiple sites – meaning focused efforts on coordination are essential.

6. Emotional Intelligence
Why? Emotional intelligence encompasses the building of knowledge and skills related to self-awareness, social interactions and managing relationships. The development of emotional intelligence has a flow on effect in other areas of our lives. When we know ourselves – our strengths, weaknesses, stressors and triggers – we can better navigate diverse workplaces and our careers. Emotionally intelligent leaders are highly sought after in modern working environments.

7. Judgment and Decision Making
Why? The ability to make sound judgments and decisions relates to the ongoing development of our emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills. This powerful combination means our choices are better informed and consider all possibilities – essential in a connected world that demands we both make and communicate decisions faster and with clarity.

8. Service Orientation
Why? Service orientation means organisations and team members are always focused on the best outcome for all, rather than what merely serves them as individuals. It is the ability to anticipate, recognise and meet others’ needs, sometimes even before those needs are articulated. Service orientation is essential in a world that is shifting toward enhanced customer experiences and more ethical practices.

9. Negotiation
Why? Negotiating is not about getting just what we want. Negotiation is a win-win that satisfies the needs and interests of all invested parties. These kinds of negotiations are important as we move into a world that is becoming increasingly communicative, collaborative and based on mutually beneficial partnerships. Negotiating win-wins with employees is also essential to encourage work-life balance and, as a result, enhanced productivity.

10. Cognitive Flexibility
Why? Cognitive flexibility represents someone’s ability to shift thoughts and adapt to an ever-changing environment. It could be described as ‘super fluidity’ of thought. Cognitive flexibility is vital to navigate uncertainty and remain open and receptive to change. This uncertainty underpins the world of work and the rate of change is only increasing with technological developments, economic changes and disruptive innovation.

What to do now?
Look for opportunities to introduce these skills into your work and life – shaping a ‘2020 mindset’ that’s built for the future.

Leanne Roulston – Head of Education, BRG Learning and Development