10 Skills for Future Success You Should Be Working on Now

3 min read
Feb 13, 2017

towards a successful future

The world of work is changing fast, thanks to a handful of disruptive drivers, and jobs of the future are likely to require new skills. The Institute for the Future (IFTF) at the University of Phoenix Research Institute recently released a report that looked at what’s changed and what it will take to succeed in 2020.

Future Work Skills 2020

The 6 Disrupters


01. Extreme longevity

People are living longer and staying productive longer — IFTF estimates that by 2020, the number of Americans over 60 will increase by 70%. Organizations will want to rethink career paths to take advantage of experienced, highly skilled talent. Workers themselves will need to participate in lifelong learning since they’re likely to have multiple careers over the course of their work life.


02. The computational world

With sensors and processors everywhere, “every object, every interaction, everything we come into contact with will be converted into data.” That’s a big deal because that data will need to be massaged, manipulated, and exploited to reveal effective solutions on all scales, from worldwide management of a pandemic response down to the refining of a someone’s daily route to work.


03. Superstructured organizations

“To ‘superstruct’ means to create structures that go beyond the basic forms and processes with which we are familiar.” Social media and crowdsourcing allow businesses to operate beyond traditional office-shaped borders, and many are scrambling to learn how to leverage social platforms to operate at scales larger — think worldwide businesses — and smaller — think micropayment-based industries like gaming.


04. Rise of smart machines and systems

The arrival of smart machines forces us to answer a huge question: “What are humans uniquely good at? What is our comparative advantage? And what is our place alongside these machines? We will have to rethink the content of our work and our work processes in response.”


05. New media ecology

Social media is replacing traditional information outlets. Between fake news and ideological “tribalism,” it’s getting harder and harder to know what to believe and think. We’re going to have to develop new skills for identifying accurate information amidst all the static.


06. Globally connected world

Serving international markets is about more than innovating in developed countries and outsourcing production elsewhere. Instead, companies are moving to integrate local employees into all levels of operation, and this necessitates a fundamental rethinking of organizational hierarchies.


The 10 Skills You’ll Have to Have


01. Sense-making

Recognizing deeper meaning in raw information and being creative, since high-level thinking is difficult to convert to computing algorithms.


02. Social intelligence

Having the ability to connect with and motivate others via social media.


03. Novel and adaptive thinking

Being adaptive, able to quickly develop methods and solutions in the face of unanticipated conditions that require non-rule-based thinking.


04. Cross-cultural competency

The ability to function in multiple cultures, requiring both language skills and a deeper understanding of local cultures.


05. Computational thinking

The ability to see the ways in which data sets can be computer-translated into knowledge, and an understanding of data-based reasoning.


06. New-media literacy

Being able to identify and develop useful content and a mastery of social platforms for effective presentation and distribution.


07. Transdisciplinarity

A deep understanding in one field with the ability to communicate in a range of others to develop multidisciplinary solutions for multifaceted problems that demand them.


08. Design mindset

The ability to design processes and environments that facilitate the desired outcomes.


09. Cognitive load management

The ability to receive a glut of information and effectively filter out noise to focus on what’s actually worth knowing.


10. Virtual collaboration

The ability to operate successfully as a member of a virtual team of coworkers physically separated from each other.

The world is changing, but it’s less a revolution, really, than an evolution — a natural result of the 20th-century technology explosion we’ve been enjoying for a while. Challenging? Sure. But it’s also going to be truly exciting as humankind redefines work and career in the wide-open future we’ve already summoned into being.



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