No doubt the future of work is here. The pandemic, coupled with technological advancements, urbanization, consumer instant demands, and demographic shifts have only expedited its arrival.
Depending on the experts you speak with, they’ll tell you that the workforce is now going through a transitional phase somewhere between the fifth and sixth industrial revolution. Employers and employees alike have had to quickly revolutionize their way of work to one that’s forward-thinking, innovative, and agile in order to meet new norms and global demands.
Dr. Leahcim Semaj, Management Consultant and Transformation Psychologist, sheds light on the future of work quite profoundly when he states that workers must be ready for exactly what the world is looking for, otherwise they’ll be left on the curb.
Dr. Semaj reasons that soft skills are the “real skills”. He explains that these soft skills are the ones that will allow workers to manipulate things, ideas, and machines thus, remaining marketable for years to come.
Marjorie Straw, Programme Director, Skills Development for the Global Services Sector (GSS) Project, agrees and emphasizes the need for workers to evolve, retool and upskill to meet the demands of the ever-changing times.
“The future of work is no longer dependent on degrees but on soft and technical skills as well as the ability to function in a demanding and dynamic environment which requires persons to think on their feet to provide solutions,” coaches Ms. Straw.
Does this mean that the qualification and professional academic development have lost their relevance in the future of work?
Dr. Semaj admits that “Many jobs have been replaced by other jobs, [take for instance] a man turns up at a business place [seeking] a job and is asked, ‘what can you do?’. He responds, ‘any little thing.’ Seriously! No, no. That’s not working again. Cheap work is now being done by machines.”
However, this is not to say that occupations will become obsolete. The world will still require, for example, bankers, economists, carpenters, teachers, however the way in which these job functions are executed will change.
Take for instance, several doctors have had to change their way of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are still doctors medicating and diagnosing but they have learnt, as Dr. Semaj explains, how to manipulate AI, the Internet of Things, and Virtual Reality.
Let’s now zoom in on some of the top skills that will be around for a very long time, whether you’re in the field of business, finance, security, communication, medicine, technology, or law. It may be impossible to master all of the following expertise therefore focus on honing your professional brand in at least a few of the competencies.
In a world that is exhausted by “problems”, solution-focused minds are essential. These are people who will quickly think of the causes of things, conduct research to ascertain a rationale, and have the resolve to create harmony. There is always a need to be filled, and those who can recognize these needs and seek solutions will be winners!
Yes, we know you’ve heard this term over and over, and perhaps you believe that it’s easier said than done, so how can you practically hone your critical thinking skills on the job? First, analyze the operational standards within your field of work. Second, reflect on current processes and identify existing and potential issues that may arise. Lastly, question how you can improve those processes.
Try to develop a habit of always seeking to enhance what exists even if the current procedures are heralded. Critical thinking is not hard; it requires dedication, consistency, observation, application, and evaluation.
The future of work sits on the shoulders of individuals who are resourceful, who can transform new ideas into effective workflows, and who create novel products and services that meet demands. Majorie Straw advises that employees and firms “must be responsive and agile in their ability to adapt to new requirements in order to be competitive. It is important that [workers] not only develop critical thinking skills, but can identify creative ways to approach a challenge.”
Contrary to popular belief, people, not machines, are at the heart of the future of work. In fact, human resource will continue to be the most valuable asset of organizations, as such, skills relating to team and individual development, as well as workplace performance management, be it onsite or remotely, should be mastered. Do not overlook the importance of knowing how to recruit, train, delegate, and lead a team of diverse personalities, skills, and talents.
The future of work compels employees and employers to put back the human in relations. Being emotionally intelligent and proficient at service orientation means you can be responsive to the needs and concerns of customers. Those behaviors of kindness, thoughtfulness, effective communication, sincerity, sensitivity, and integrity that you were exposed to as a child will definitely keep customers coming back.
In this “new norm”, the workplace is now a global landscape. A company may be based in the Caribbean, its CEO located in North America while teammates are based all over the globe. As outsourcing of labor and remote-work gain popularity, so too will the demand to collaborate and coordinate across cultures, skillsets, and time zones.
The old saying, “change is the only constant in life” stands true to this very day. The world is constantly revolving, and jobs are constantly evolving. You must therefore strive to be a consistent student of your profession as you keep-up with relevant trends and strategies as well as upskill to meet emerging changes in operational procedure.
Perhaps, you’re contemplating a career path, considering how to bring a better version of you to your daily job functions or maybe you have invested in this dream career, an expensive degree programme, possibly attaining honours, but still can’t seem to get ahead. Now is the time to put the “real skills” to test and so that you are not left behind. Megatrends indicate that if you develop these top skills then your future of work will be secured, whether you are a tradesperson or service professional. Bosses will boast about you and quickly the word will get around and jobs will run after you.
– Shelly-Ann Thompson, Blog Contributor
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