What skills are needed for the future of work?

The future of work is changing. Plenty of jobs that exist today won’t exist in fifty years. They’ll be replaced by different jobs. But as no-one knows exactly what those jobs will be, how can you prepare yourself for the future of work?

Here are five skills that will help you thrive (and small things you can do to help improve them):

1) Learn how to learn

Given that none of us know what the future of work will look like, it’s a guarantee that we will all have to learn new things. Learning how to learn means that you’ll find it much easier to pick things up quickly.

There are lots of different techniques, but one that I find effective is the power of recall. When you’ve finished something new, spend a few minutes summarising what you learnt. That way, when you come to remember it next time, you’ll be far more likely to recall it. This works with whatever you’ve learnt, from reading an article to learning how to create pivot tables.

If you want to find out more about learning how to learn, this free online course lists multiple techniques you can use.

By the way, learning isn’t just what you do on a course or when taking an online module. You can learn through any medium, online or in real life – even when you’re reading a blog post like this one.

2) Make the most of your tribe

We all have people that we admire and trust. Those people can also be online. Your tribe is made up of your friends, peers, colleagues and strangers that you share ideas over the internet with.

Your tribe helps you to develop. They share interesting articles or news stories. They ask you questions and help you to justify why you think something. They also share opportunities: job roles, events, new ways of working, lessons that they learnt amongst others.

If you’re still developing your tribe here are some things you can do:

  • Find out what it is you care about. What communities do you want to be a part of?
  • Find vocal people on LinkedIn or Twitter. The best people to follow are those who amplify those around them. Look for people who praise others and share lots of links from other people
  • Use # related to what you’re passionate about

It’s ok to watch from the sidelines if you’re not comfortable getting involved yet.

3) Solve problems creatively

Problem-solving applies to everyone. It’s what we do when things change, we find alternative solutions. It’s a highly sought after skill – for the World Economic Foundation, it’s the number one skill.

There are lots of techniques you can use to help your flex your problem-solving muscles. For me, the most important is getting to the root of the problem.

What’s really causing the problem? One way you can do this is to keep asking why, until you get to the root cause. Often you’ll find that the underlying cause is unrelated to the symptoms presented.

4) Strengthen your resilience

As the world of work changes, we are going to find ourselves in new, sometimes overwhelming situations. Help yourself cope in changing environments. Avoid getting overwhelmed and stressed. Be more flexible and adaptable.

How can you build up your resilience? Get out of your comfort zone more, when it doesn’t matter. Set yourself small goals that you feel uncomfortable doing. It doesn’t matter how successful you are, as long as you try. Once you’ve tried once, it will be much easier next time round.

5) Develop your emotional intelligence

Being able to identify and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others is going to be an essential skill. As robots take on more automated tasks, it’s likely that roles requiring empathy will become common for humans. And in an increasingly polarised world, a little empathy will go a long way.

One way to develop your emotional intelligence is to listen. No, really listen. Find someone that you disagree with – in real life, or on the internet. Ask them questions about what they think and why they think it. Don’t try and trip them up and try not to judge. You’ll find that it’s a much more fruitful conversation.

The good thing is that all these skills can be developed. Do you have any more tips or techniques? I’d love to hear what works for you – tweet me @emvacher

Inspiration from this post came from the Institute for the Future and Freeformers.

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