Getting ahead and Staying there Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

As the world of work gets competitive by the day, experts are predicting that machines will slowly take over human workforce very soon. With robotics and Artificial Intelligence progressing by leaps and bounds within the last decade, unemployment is fast becoming a harsh reality in every country. In the coming days, most specialized and manual work will be done automatically while we humans will need to adapt and move on to new careers. It is no longer enough to just know things, it is equally, if not more, important to be certain things. Educational qualifications no longer guarantee employment, having some experience helps but having an edge over those with both degrees and experience is what will definitely open up more opportunities. So what are these qualities and how does one develop them?

These qualities or competencies are called employability skills, skills that would eventually define how we will work in the future. Some of the skills to be mentioned have already been part of our repertoire for quite some time but it is essential to constantly develop them. There will also be new skills that hinge on the advances in technology. These competencies weren’t even around a decade ago: but will be ever-defining skills to be competitive in the future workforce. With these in mind, there is now a definite need to polish these skills and deepen our understanding of how our careers depend on them.

1. Creativity: Humanity’s use of innovation and imagination in developing creative solutions cannot be replicated by machines. Creativity is one of the keys to human survival and dominance. It allows us to improve our quality of life. Creative thinking is one of the professional skills that will be most sought- after by employers.

2. Complex Problem-Solving: Another skill is finding creative solutions through problem-solving. Solving problems can actually be done by automation; and in some cases, machines might even prove to be better than us humans but we have the ability to perceive different unstated factors and considerations when solving problems. Things like empathy, interpersonal sensitivity, ethics, and morality are some examples of implied elements of decision-making that only we humans can discern. Being keen and sensitive to these factors will make complex problem solving one of the most sought-after employability skills for the future workforce.

3. Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to identify problems, gather information, and make sense of data to find viable solutions. We have the ability to perceive how “everything” is connected with each other. Critical thinking also demands awareness that details shouldn’t be taken at face value. Gauging priorities, gathering information, and interpreting data can be easily done through automation. Nevertheless, critical thinking makes sense of all the complex relationships, interrelated propositions, and implicit assumptions when facing issues allow us to better prioritize and interpret information and use them to come up with the best solution to a problem.

4. Social Intelligence: Another skill that employers look for is social intelligence also known as people skills. Social intelligence pertains to the way we are able to go about complex social relationships. Simply put, it is our ability to associate with other people. People skills are also closely linked to emotional intelligence – which is the recognition of our own and other people’s emotions and handling them  appropriately. Social intelligence is definitely one of the skills you need for a job in the future because it will be absolutely needed for all interaction, both online and off, with clients, customers, and peers.

5. Computer Literacy: Literacy to new media is definitely one of the more important employability skills for the future. The use of different digital media is slowly becoming the standard of ‘computer literacy.’ These new media include blogging, social media, online publications, digital games, and virtual reality, just to name a few. Skills for the future workforce would somehow merit leveraging these so that employees can conveniently transact with customers or each other on the aforementioned platforms.

6. Lifelong Learning: Employment skills for the future require one to be a lifelong learner. This kind of an educational mindset means that a person becomes a self-directed learner, able to operate without set agendas or curriculums and basically having an attitude to learn what is or will be needed. Personal and professional development cannot be done away with. Commitment to lifelong learning also brings about other competencies and attitudes like having a growth mindset, iterative thinking, and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities.
7. Responsible Digital Citizenship: Responsible digital citizenship means using online resources responsibly. With laws changing due to the ever-increasing influence of the internet, there will come a time when a person’s digital footprint will become a substantial component of hiring and employability.
8. Non-verbal Communication: This alludes to one’s body language, gestures, facial expressions, etc. These speak beyond one’s CV or certificates and speak the truth. It is therefore imperative to be than to convince someone that you are. Confidence comes from being knowledgeable and updated with latest developments around the world and in one’s field of interest or work. Habits like reading, interacting more, observing, emulating, etc develops one’s personality which automatically expresses itself in all interactions, enabling the individual to stand out in a crowd.
The next few years will be the most crucial in ensuring that we still get to retain our livelihood for the next few decades. We need to equip ourselves with employability skills that will keep us competitive in a very high-tech workforce. With automation threatening human jobs, we need to constantly upgrade ourselves and develop skills which will enable us to thrive and not just survive in any workplace.
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