You’ve read that robots, automation and artificial intelligence are likely to displace millions of workers in the coming ten to twenty years. So if you or someone you care about wants to stay ahead of that curve, what skills would you need to make you an ideal worker in that automated future?
Recently, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey of technologists, scholars, strategic thinkers and education leaders, asking them for insight into the future of the workplace. Seventy percent said they envisioned new educational and training programs that would quickly and flexibly identify new skills that were needed in the marketplace and adapt over and over again to provide training in whatever is needed. So instead of people having to anticipate what the job market will need (foreseeing the future is never an easy task), they will be able to seek out training facilities that are connected with corporations around the world who are sending them real-time data on their employment needs. Some of the respondents imagine that these training facilities will replace our current system of stodgy colleges and universities, which are very slow to adapt to changing needs in the workplace.
One interesting theme that popped up again and again was training that would teach people how to become lifelong learners—so they could reenter these flexible, ever-adjusting jobs programs again and again through a multi-career path. Another theme was the emergence of alternative credentialing systems that would vouch for the skills that people have acquired through their training.
Some respondents chose to focus their responses on figuring out the human talents that would be hardest for machines and automation to duplicate. Among the most popular talents cited: creativity, collaborative activity, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication, and the ability to thrive in creative environments. Others: the ability to effectively network, market, manage public relations, and display intercultural sensitivity, which all require social and emotional intelligence.
Roughly a third of the respondents doubted that training platforms would emerge fast enough to help today’s workers. Even if we did have retraining facilities in place, some doubted that today’s workers would recognize the need for retraining, instead simply demanding their old jobs back.
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