Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Executive Summary of IFTF White Paper -The Future of Work Skills in 2020

IFTF (the Institute for the Future) uses foresight as a starting point with a process called Foresight to Insight to Action, a process that enables people to take future visions and convert them into meaningful insights and actions they can take to be successful in the future. Their recent report analyzes key drivers that will reshape the landscape of work and identifies ten key work skills needed in the next 10 years.

1. Six Driver of Changes

Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers to shaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future. Here are six disruptive shifts that are likely to reshape the future landscape

1). Extreme longevity
Increasing global life spans change the nature of careers and learning. Multiple careers will be commonplace and lifelong learning to prepare for occupational change will see major growth. To take advantage of this well-experienced and still vital workforce, organizations will have to rethink the traditional career paths in organizations, creating more diversity and flexibility.

2) Rise of smart machines and systems
Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks.Smart machines will also establish new expectations and standards of performance. We will be entering into a new kind of partnership with machines that will build on our mutual strengths, resulting in a new level of human-machine collaboration and co-dependence.

3) Computational world
Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable
System. Every object, every interaction, everything we come into contact with will be converted into data. Thus we will usher in an era of “everything is programmable”—an era of thinking about the world in computational, programmable, designable terms.

4) New media ecology
New communication tools require new media literacy beyond text. A new ecosystem will take shape around these areas. We are literally developing a new vernacular, a new language, for communication. At the same time, virtual networks are being integrated more and more seamlessly into our environment and lives, channeling new media into our daily experience

5) Superstructed organizations
Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation. Amplified by a new level of collective intelligence and tapping resources embedded in social connections with multitudes of others, we can now achieve the kind of scale and reach previously attainable only by very large organizations. In other words, we can do things outside of traditional organizational boundaries. It means to collaborate and play at extreme scales, from the micro to the massive. Learning to use new social tools to work, to invent, and to govern at these scales is what the next few decades are all about.

6) Globally connected world
Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations. Globalization is the long-term trend toward greater exchanges and integration across geographic borders. In our highly globally connected and interdependent world.

2. Ten Skills For the Future Workforce

What do these six disruptive forces mean for the workers of the next decade? Rather than focusing on future jobs, this report looks at future work skills—proficiencies and abilities required across different jobs and work settings, and it has identified ten skills that they believe will be critical for success in the workforce

1) Sense-making
Definition: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.

There will be an increasing demand for the kinds of skills machines are not good at. These are higher level, thinking skills that cannot be codified. These are sense-making skills that help us create unique insights and synthesis process critical to decision making.

2) Social intelligence
Definition: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions

Socially intelligent employees are able to quickly assess the emotions of those around them and adapt their words, tone and gestures accordingly. It’s sort of  high level of “sense and sensitivity”.

3) Novel & adaptive thinking
Definition: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.

The employees with adaptive thinking have such “situational adaptability”—the ability to respond to unique unexpected circumstances of the moment, with adaptability to changing circumstances and an ability to sense and respond to new contexts

4) Cross-cultural competency
Definition: ability to operate in different cultural settings

In a truly globally connected world, a worker’s skill set demands specific content, such as linguistic skills, cross-cultural competency will become an important skill for all workers, not just those who have to operate in diverse geographical environments. Organizations increasingly see diversity as a driver of innovation. Research now tells us that what makes a group truly intelligent and innovative is the combination of different ages, skills, disciplines,working and thinking styles that members bring to the table

5) Computational thinking
Definition: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning

As the amount of data that we have at our disposal increases exponentially, many more roles will require computational thinking skills in order to make sense of this information.In addition to developing computational thinking skills, workers will need to be aware of its limitations, as analytics and intuition are both critical in making effective decisions.

6) New-media literacy
Definition: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication

The explosion in user-generated media including the blogs, videos, and podcasts that now dominate our social lives, will be fully felt in workplaces in the next decade, so the expectations of worker ability to produce content using these new forms will rise dramatically.

7)  Transdisciplinarity
Definition: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines

Many of today’s global problems are just too complex to be solved by one specialized discipline (think global warming or overpopulation). These multifaceted problems require trans-disciplinary solutions. While throughout the 20th century, ever-greater specialization was encouraged, the next century will see trans-disciplinary approaches take center stage. The ideal worker of the next decade is “T-shaped”—they bring deep understanding of at least one field, but have the capacity to converse in the language of a broader range of disciplines. This requires a sense of curiosity and a willingness to go on learning far beyond the years of formal education.

8) Design mindset
Definition: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes

Workers of the future will need to become adept at recognizing the kind of thinking that different tasks require, and making adjustments to their work environments that enhance their ability to accomplish these tasks.

9). Cognitive load management
Definition: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques

A world rich in information streams in multiple formats and from multiple devices brings the issue of cognitive overload to the fore. The next generation of workers will have to develop their own techniques for tackling the problem of cognitive overload, effectively capture the signal from noise.

10) Virtual collaboration
Definition: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

Work is not the place you go, but the mission/ task you accomplish. Connective technologies make it easier than ever to work, share ideas and be productive despite physical separation. But the virtual work environment also demands a new set of competencies. Workers in the future will need to be adaptable lifelong learners.. Placing additional emphasis on developing skills such as critical thinking, insight, and analysis capabilities

Future is not so far away, as matter of fact, part of future is already here. To be successful in the next decade, individuals will need to demonstrate foresight in navigating a rapidly shifting landscape of organizational forms and skill requirements, cultivate the skills to adapt to the future. And businesses must also be alert to the changing environment and adapt their workforce planning and development strategies to ensure alignment with future skill requirements.


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