Skills for the Future: Need to prepare 21st-century
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and automation seems to be transforming the way we work. There has been a blurring of lines between the physical and digital spheres with technologies enabling enterprises in becoming productive, efficient, competitive, responsive, and cost-effective. In short, the professional world is changing at a rapid pace and is creating demand for a skilled workforce to meet the evolving challenges of the future. The world around us is progressively seeing the incorporation of AI and ML, robots, chatbots, IoT, and other automated technologies. This gives rise to questions such as are we ready for this change and are we preparing the next-gen workforce with the necessary skills, mindset, and education to embrace the tech-driven world of the future? Let us understand if the knowledge and education pursued as of today will be of relevance in the future as well? Type of skills for the future As opposed to common perception, automation or the use of technology does not necessarily throw people out of jobs but rather requires more people with the right technological acumen. To keep up with such a world people should have attributes like critical thinking, creativity, active listening, and others. According to the World Economic Forum, the fourth industrial revolution will need skills that prioritize problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, negotiation, and decision making. The fact that automation can do most of the jobs faster and better than humans means the 21st-century workforce should be reoriented towards creativity and emotional skills – skills that are lacked by machines. The in-demand jobs of the future would be for people possessing skills that computers cannot replicate. The skills to equip the workforce and prepare it for the twenty-first century are: Critical Thinking: It is the ability to analyze a situation objectively and find an unbiased and logically sound solution. In the era of fake news and social media manipulation, critical thinking can help the workforce to maintain a healthy skepticism of what it sees, reads, and listens to. Also, critical thinking is about asking the right questions before arriving at a solution based on intuition, creativity, knowledge of human behavior, and experience. This is important as computers driven by advancements in AI, ML, big data, and analytics need to be asked the right questions. Adaptability or Flexibility: The fast-changing world of technology means market dynamics are throwing up new challenges in terms of mergers, acquisitions, and others. And the workforce should be willing to adapt to the new technologies or evolving work environments by upskilling or retraining. The workforce should be committed to lifelong learning and not be complacent about skills acquired at the college or university. Leadership Skills: This is not about holding a leadership position and shouting instructions to one and all but of taking ownership of the job at hand. Even a new joinee can exhibit leadership skills by taking ownership of the job assigned to him or her. Efforts should be made for leading by example and delegating responsibilities optimally rather than managing a team authoritatively. Leadership also demands a person to have great interpersonal skills who can handle transitions, training, and migrations effectively. Teamwork: Employees in the 21st century should not only possess technical skills in their chosen fields but have the ability to get along with others as well. He or she should be able to understand others’ perspectives, communicate ideas cogently, and collaborate with other members of his or her team in accordance with the business objectives. Conclusion Even as the dominance of technology, especially automation will reign supreme, it is the intuitiveness and skills of the workforce that will deliver the outcomes. Candidates passing out of colleges or universities should move away from the bookish knowledge and add value to them by opting for skill development training. The future job scenario would require people who could reinvent themselves, be skilled in the relevant technologies of the day, and have the above-mentioned skills to succeed.