It is evident that technology is advancing and this also shows where the future of work will be. To remain competitive in any industry, technological skills are a must-have to fit and thrive. According to McKinsey, the coming years and decades technology is sure to develop and encompass ever more human work activities (McKinsey & Company, 2020). Currently, robots have been carrying out a lot of routine physical activities but increasingly machines are now taking on more sophisticated tasks. According to Forbes, technological advances such as artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality, blockchains and more fuel the 4th industrial revolution (Marr, 2020). This is the major reason why everyone needs to be somewhat comfortable around technology. The technologies may vary by industry, business or job however, everyone needs to be able to understand its potential impact in their profession.
Technology is now changing the way people work and live. Take for instance Uber, Netflix, Airbnb or Udacity are very good examples to understand the speed and extent of the change and innovation being brought about by technology (Pearson and Gram, 2020). This is as a result of the digital transformation that was forecasted a few years ago. The advances in computing power and speed are also contributing to this change for the future of work. The McKinsey Global Institute placed the automation of knowledge work second on its 2013 list of trends in the transition to the digital economy. According to the World Economic Forum, more than a third of the skills essential today will have changed in the next five years. Their predicted 2022 skills outlook included technology design and programming to be one of the top five skills needed to excel in the future.
What are the technical skills the future workforce must-have?
Being tech-savvy is now universal and it is something that everyone should have. In the future of work, by 2030, everyone should be comfortable around technology for each and every profession (Ansari, 2020). Some of the skills might seem to be too basic, but everyone needs to have a solid ground to be able to enhance their technical skills to the technological advances that will be used in the future which include artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality, blockchains etc. The following list shows some of the technical skills that are required in the future of the workforce from the very basic one to the complex ones:
Social media savviness
Social media refers to the websites and applications that allow users to create and share content or participate in social networking. In today’s world, modern businesses greatly depend on social media to generate their customers, income and get exposure. Branding is now done mainly online using social media which is why employers would like to hire someone who is able to meet these requirements (Staffing, 2020). The most important platforms to become familiar with that the majority of the businesses use are:
Social media savviness is not really a challenging skill to acquire. However, it requires one’s ability to share relevant information on the platforms and engage with clients or customers or future prospects. There are plenty of resources online that can be used to learn to use these platforms and these can be:
- Reading blogs online
- Taking a class on social media
- Watching webinars
Social media is playing a major role in today’s world marketing therefore it is time for you to step up your social media game and remain competitive.
Computer software is a collection of computer instructions that tell the computer how to work. These software’s includes software programs on a computer such as applications and operating systems such as Windows, Linux etc. The applications include the Microsoft Office and email software. If you have not been a mathematical person, it is time to put that aside and try your best to understand spreadsheeting. This is because it is becoming mandatory to be able to effectively use applications such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets since large amounts of data are being collected and used nowadays. Take time to learn Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets or any other relevant spreadsheeting application to remain relevant.
Some of the basic computer software skills include presentation skills, word processing skills and email skills. Every employer assumes that you know how to create visually appealing presentations using applications such as Google Suite or Microsoft PowerPoint. Learning how to type documents properly is also very important because this is how the digital work is now done. The ability to format your pages and add the appropriate margins is crucial. There are plenty of free Microsoft Word or Google Docs tutorials available online where you can learn from. Emailing software’s such as Microsoft Outlook or even Slack are also important to master as these are the staples of the modern workplaces. If you are not familiar with any of these software’s take some time to learn about them because the future of work is already upon us and these are mandatory.
The employees that already have these skills should also consider adding the following to be more competent:
- The ability to create and design websites
- Statistical software management
- Coding or programming
- Graphic design
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence demonstrated by machines which can meaningfully improve people’s lives and everyone who has access to it. Technological developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics are going so fast and there are now a lot of AI applications in various all functions. AI is here to stay and it will also do the following:
- Create jobs: According to the World Economic Forum report, AI will create as many jobs as it will replace. Some of these jobs being created include data scientists, transparency analysts, smart analysts and machine-relations managers.
- Eliminate bias and diversity challenges at work: It is most likely going to stir up positive change in workplaces. For example, when used during recruitment, all the applicants are assessed in an unbiased fact-based manner.
- Steer business outcome strategies: AI is going to assist businesses in carrying out operations in more comprehensive ways which are shifting from the traditional data science to machine learning models.
- Boost innovation in the future workplace: The future workforce will lean more towards innovation and creativity. Companies that implement AI in their business strategies will experience dramatic improvements in their customer experiences and their employees will become more motivated.
AI is becoming a necessity of life in the same the internet is one. Try to make yourself as valuable as you can in this field to remain relevant because it is one of the hot topics for the future of work.
There are two main types of reality which are augmented reality and virtual reality. For instance, virtual reality can be used to improve the recruitment processes in the HR function by giving candidates a realistic preview of the organisation and the job. Both augmented reality and virtual reality can be used for training and such applications are actually ground-breaking!
Big data is a field that treats ways to analyze, systematically extract information from, or otherwise, deal with data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. Big data is seriously big. According to the Irish Tech News, by 2025 there will be 163 zettabytes of data generated throughout the world. In regards to the future of work, the use cases of big data will expand and the following are some of the areas where it will have a huge impact:
- Big data and CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
- Bid data and hiring
- Big data and decision making
- Big data and office space
With only 0.5 per cent of the world’s data analyzed and ready to be applied, we still have a while to go before things like big data, IoT, AI, and machine learning have an everyday impact on our lives. But big data isn’t inherently valuable, and without applying it towards a problem or a goal, big data doesn’t serve much purpose.
These technological skills show how the future of work is changing our workplaces making us more productive and connecting lots of people on a global level. Despite many people having challenges in acquiring these skills, they are a must-have set of skills in order to set yourself up for success.
Kudzai Derera is the Business Systems Manager at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.
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McKinsey & Company. (2020). The digital future of work: What skills will be needed?. [Online] Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-digital-future-of-work-what-skills-will-be-needed [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].
Marr, B. (2020). The 10 Vital Skills You Will Need For The Future Of Work. [Online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/04/29/the-10-vital-skills-you-will-need-for-the-future-of-work/#3b7e724e3f5b [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].
Pearson, R. and Gram, T. (2020). Technology, Skills and the Future of Learning. [Online] Training Industry. Available at: https://trainingindustry.com/articles/strategy-alignment-and-planning/technology-skills-and-the-future-of-learning/ [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].
Ansari, K. (2020). 8 Basic Tech Skills Every Employee Should Have. [Online] Undercover Recruiter. Available at: https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/8-tech-skills/ [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].
Staffing, M. (2020). 4 technological skills every modern job seeker must have to be competitive. [Online] Masis Staffing. Available at: https://masisstaffing.com/technology-skills/ [Accessed 23 Feb. 2020].