Critical Skills for the Future

By December 1, 2017 Uncategorized No Comments

We live in a rapidly changing world where new industries are formed while old ones are becoming obsolete constantly. Both the workforce and our knowledge base are transforming. With the impact of technological automation on the workforce, What

Below are the skills and mindset young people indeed require to unleash their full potential.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Students usually face no problems in solving questions. Asking questions however, tend to be a challenge to them. However, asking good questions is a foundation of critical thinking. To solve a problem, it is essential that you critically analyze and question the root of the problem. Hence, critical thinking and problem solving often come in a pair. As opposed to the traditional way where teams are formed according to their specific specialties, you now see diverse teams working on specific problems. Thus, the manager no longer have all the answers and solutions. You have to work it out yourself. Critical thinking builds the ground for innovation. Only when we can question and criticize the status quo, can we innovate and prescribe an alternative.

Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence

We see a rise in the contingent workforce in recent years. 40% of the average company’ total workforce is expected to be made up of non-permanent and remote workers in the next five years. We are also foreseeing a more significant percentage of full-time employees working on the cloud. Multinational corporations even have employees at different offices across working as teams. Geographical boundaries no longer bound work and collaboration with the help of technology. This, however, suggests that our youth would need to be prepared to collaborate with individuals from radically different backgrounds across digital networks. This suggests that leaders have to shift from exerting control through a top-down method to leading by influence. Like what Tony Wagner once said, “It’s about how citizens make change today in their local communities—by trying to influence diverse groups and then creating alliances of groups who work together toward a common goal.”

Agility and Adaptability

We live in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world. Thus, the ability to adapt and redefine one’s strategy becomes critical. According to a book written by Richard Paul & Dillion Beach, our education and work mindset has been designed for routine and fixed procedures traditionally. In the book they wrote, “ “We learned how to do something once, and then we did it over and over. Learning meant becoming habituated,” and “But what is it to learn to continually re-learn? To be comfortable with perpetual re-learning?” The impact of technology signals that we have to be agile and adaptive to unforeseen consequences of disruption. This means that we have to learn skills and mindsets on demand and abandon those that are no longer relevant.

Initiative and Entrepreneurship

In school, taking the initiative has traditionally been viewed as an addition to schoolwork. Most students see the development of initiative and entrepreneurial skills as part of their extracurricular activities. Due to their emphasis on short-term tests and knowledge, most curricula were not designed to inspire doers and innovators. This has led to many youths lacking the ability to lead, take initiatives and solve global challenges. Even in the corporate world, many corporations are struggling to find employees who consistently “seek out new opportunities, ideas, and strategies for improvement.”

Effective Oral and Written Communication

A report once showed that about 89% of employers report high school graduate entrants as “deficient” in communication. Clear communication is not just about the proper use of language and grammar. It is an extension of clear thought. Can you persuasively present your argument? Can you inspire others with passion? Can you concisely capture the highlight of your presentation? Can you promote yourself or a product? Richard Branson once said, “Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” He noted that communication is a skill that can be learned and used to open many opportunities.

Assessing and Analyzing Information

We now live in the age of information. 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. This suggests that even though we now have more access to information, we also have greater access to misinformation. Many students are no longer able to assess the source and evaluate the content of information the access while they navigate through the digital world. This is especially so as information is continuously evolving as we update our knowledge base more rapidly. Thus, it is vital that you equip yourself with the ability to assess information from many different sources through a critical lens in this era where news is no longer entirely credible.

Curiosity and Imagination

Curiosity drives new knowledge and innovation. A child-like sense of awe and wonder about the world enables us to imagine something better. Only with powerful imagination are we able to envision breakthroughs and then eventually execute them. As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Many students are accustomed to being spoonfed with information and no longer possess the ability to ask questions and seek answers. Thus, it is vital that students equip themselves with inquisitiveness and the ability to think out of the box.

Equipping yourselves with the right skills

You may notice by now that the education system that you have gone through does not necessarily equip you with all the skills you require to survive in the new age. Thus, it is crucial that you not only prepare yourselves for college but also prepare yourselves for life. It is no longer just about being a good employee; it is about the ability to lead, innovate and inspire. Only then, will you be able to maximize your potential to its fullest.

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