Skills for the future

Workforces are rapidly changing. We face a wave of technological advancements, the throes of globalisation, and an increasingly independent workforce. While once reliable skills are becoming redundant, new skills are constantly presenting themselves. In amidst this economic and industrial flux, it has become pertinent to predict what skills will be needed, rather than attempt competency as those needs arise. With regards to skilling, prescience has become the order of the day.

Companies such as LinkedIn are staying ahead of this curve by attempting to predict future skills demand through analysing a myriad of data points. In observing recruitment and hiring activity across the entire site, LinkedIn identified what they perceive to be the top ten skills sought after in the workforce today — skills which, until recently, were either non-existent, or too specific to fall under standard workforce expectations.

The top ten skills according to LinkedIn were:

· Cloud and distributed computing

· Statistical analysis and data mining

· Web architecture and development framework

· Middleware and integration software

· User interface design

· Network and information security

· Mobile development

· Data presentation

· SEO/SEM marketing

· Storage systems and management.

LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher provided some analysis of what this list means regarding the global job market. For example, cloud and distributed computing skills have been listed at the top for the past two years, as well as statistical analysis and data mining. Demand for these skills is being driven by constant updates in technology, and the relative inability of the workforce to keep up with these innovations.

At the other end, SEO and marketing skills have dropped in demand. This is most likely the result of a skilled workforce catching up with what was once a fierce demand. It seems that marketing skills have now become more of a prerequisite than a selling point.

Broader skills are anticipated to gain increasing prominence. For example, an ability to manipulate data is quickly becoming indispensable. As such, a wealth of information is available and must be utilised. Being able to analyse, process, and identify patterns and trends is a critical skill required for the future.

New media literacy has become a necessity as the workforce operates amidst an ever-changing digital world. Keeping up-to-date with the way information is stored, processed, and communicated is more important than ever; a skill set that will only increase in relevance.

Regarding working skills themselves, there is an increasing demand for those with a transdisciplinary background. As skills become more specialised, a need arises for those with competence across a range of disciplines. This is all the more important when considering the current nature of employment in that people are now expected to hold a variety of positions and accomplish a broad range of undertakings throughout their working lives.

Globalisation also poses a new challenge. As cultures interact through business all the more frequently, the greater the need for those who can work and communicate effectively across or between different cultures. Cross-cultural empathy and competence is only going to become more significant as these interactions become more prevalent.

Ultimately, the most powerful skill lies in the ability to seize the initiative. Learning new skills, and constantly improving upon them, is of the utmost importance. It is no longer enough to merely stay up to date - workers of today must exercise a degree of prescience. The rapidly changing nature of modern industry and employment calls for workers to preconceive changes and rapidly adapt to meet them. Competing in the future employment market means identifying change, and having the initiative and versatility to adapt.

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