Future skills: get ready for 2030

A glowing computer chip, representing a futuristic approach to future skills

85% – that’s how many of the jobs that will be on offer in 2030 don’t even exist yet! So, if you thought the world was changing rapidly, this snapshot of the future will definitely confirm your suspicions.  Perhaps this startling stat will also persuade you to consider what your job might look like 10 years from now and whether you have the future skills needed to succeed.

According to Dell’s latest research, which they conducted under the guidance of the experts at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), they’ve concluded that ‘we’re on the cusp of the next era of human-machine partnerships.’

It’s true that for centuries, we have worked and lived alongside machines. However, it’s anticipated that these connections will become deeper and more immersive by 2030. As data, processing power, and connectivity exponentially increase, these machines will open up a new world of possibilities beyond our comprehension, allowing humans to transcend our limitations.

How should we react to the rapid change of pace and prepare our workforce with the future skills to prepare them for the immense possibilities that lie ahead? What subjects should be part of our school curriculums? And for those long graduated, where should we focus our upskilling efforts?

Man vs machine?

As machines take on an ever increasing role in our lives and workplaces, we should consider the impact various technological advances such as AI, machine learning and robotics will have on how we work, the types of roles that will be available in the coming years and the future skills needed to adapt to this.

We may automatically assume a negative stance towards AI- will it eliminate many common jobs and render humans redundant? However, this isn’t a sci-fi movie and there are still many real limitations to AI. Yes, machines will indeed take on many of the repetitive tasks that we are currently used to slogging through, but it doesn’t mean that machines are adept to take on complex decision-making, strategy, or creative projects – these are, for now anyway, still uniquely human endeavours.

On the slip side, we’ve also seen machines not only opening up a range of new technical roles and standard job requirements for all employees, such as software development, coding and cybersecurity – but also enhancing the desirability of individuals who possess excellent human-centric skills.

Digital skills

The Covid 19 pandemic undoubtedly accelerated society’s technological advancement. Companies had to make big changes to how they conducted their business due to the initially enforced era of remote work, and workers had to up their digital skillset rapidly and whilst on the job.

Now we’re faced with further monumental changes on the horizon, yet despite our adaptability over the past 2 years, there are still businesses that may get left behind.

According to studies, 57% of businesses are struggling to keep up and 93% are facing challenges in becoming successful digital businesses by 2030.

What’s concerning is that one of the largest barriers cited is ‘Workforce readiness’, with 59% of businesses believing their workforce isn’t sufficiently cyber security savvy.

According to McKinsey’s recent report on the future world of work, they highlighted that an individual’s ability to ‘operate in a digital environment’ was one of the 3 criteria they need to fulfil in a modern workplace, regardless of sector or role.

In conducting their research, they surveyed 18,000 people from 15 countries to ascertain today’s workers’ level of proficiency in 56 different skills against the projected level of competency required in the future. Researchers discovered that respondents’ proficiency was lowest in two skill groups in the digital category—software use and development and understanding digital systems.

Unsurprisingly, these were 2 of the 4 skills predicted to be strongly associated with higher incomes.

Do organisations need to start assessing the future skills they need to survive?

Human power skills

While it’s expected that the demand for manual and physical skills will decline, social, emotional, and higher cognitive skills will increase. The most in-demand future skills will revolve around tackling complex human issues that machines are not capable of addressing. These are issues such as diversity, company culture and leadership, to name but a few.

So, what are the skills most closely associated with future employability? And how far do we need to come to fill this forecasted requirement?

Well, several of the key skills associated with employability lie within the realm of self-management and communications, namely:

Overall, we seem to be falling short in the area of communications. Although future skills such as ‘storytelling’, ‘active listening’ and ‘asking the right questions’ are predicted to be strongly linked to high incomes, at present proficiency levels are at their lowest among all the competencies tested.

Considering that there will be close to 80 million predicted full-time remote workers by 2030, upskilling in the area of communications, particularly for a manager, should be a clear priority for all organisations.

Consider how you rate your ability to communicate, deliver feedback, handle difficult conversations, and delegate- perhaps you understand their importance, but see them as a secondary part of your role? Yet these will make up an important part of the skillsets needed to thrive in a future workforce.

Final thoughts

We need to prepare ourselves and our workforce with future skills for the changes that are coming ahead, and they’re coming quickly. As technology becomes more prevalent in every industry, more jobs will require a mix of digital skills and human power skills. Individuals and organisations alike need to assess whether the skills they currently have are fit for purpose.

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