The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. From artificial intelligence (AI), 5G networks, robotics and automation, digital transformations are unfolding and disrupting various sectors globally, faster than anticipated. In the MENA region, businesses, academic institutions and professionals are being forced to adapt, grow and shift with these changes.
With many sectors being dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many roles and jobs already becoming obsolete (before there was even time to plan), there are countless skills that professionals can start acquiring to remain relevant in the present and future workplace. This is echoed by a recent study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that estimated that over 50 percent of employees will either need to re-skill or up-skill to match with future workplace demands.
For the professionals who are starting their careers, or are mid-career, there are many job skills that are now a priority. The good news is the earlier professionals start reviewing their career paths and acquiring new skillsets, the more competitive they will become in the professional realm, today and in the future.
Here is how to re-skill and up-skill for the future workplace
The hard skills
- Research the trends and forecasted changes in your industry. There are new industries that will emerge, automation will streamline many mundane tasks in existent industries, and many roles will need new skills in technology and in the digital realm. Tap into studies and research that highlight where your industry is heading.
- Brush up and enroll in courses to enhance your technology and computer skills. Is there a new computer program that you have been hearing about? Is your industry moving towards being completely digitized? Understand what competencies your career path requires and start taking online courses in that field.
- Enhance your digital literacy and ensure the latest tools and resources that your work requires are mastered. Don’t just use the tools that you are comfortable with. If there is a program, platform or resource that can streamline your work and help you become more efficient, start using it.
- Learn new things, daily. When professionals take a 3 month course, or pursue a higher degree, the amount of information they can retain will decrease over time. Instead, try ‘bite-sized learning’. Bite-sized learning entails smaller and shorter courses (1 to 15 minutes), typically focused on very specific learning outcomes.
- Stand out in cross-functional teams. There is a growing importance of having cross-functional teams in companies, where different team members’ skills can complement others. Create your own tools to communication goals, strategies and results tied to your role with other team members. Also, share your skillset with others by teaching them about your role, and listen to feedback based on the different professional backgrounds. Become an expert in your field of expertise.
The soft skills
Soft skills matter. With digitalization upon us, soft skills are even more important, as employees need to spend more time solving new problems, innovating and thinking outside the box. In fact, soft skills are now deemed just as important as technical ones. Hone your interpersonal skills, leadership skills and problem-solving skills.
- Emotional intelligence. The term entails how you read and understand human emotions, and how you adjust your behavior and words depending on the sentiment / mood of the person you are engaging with, or based on emotions you are feeling. Both verbal and non-verbal communication are key to enhance emotional intelligence.
- Creativity. Companies are always on the lookout for creative, innovative thinkers. Creativity aids in finding solutions to complex problems, presenting new ideas and transforming a project into something greater than it is.
- Think, critically. The most competitive professionals will be those whose skillsets cannot be replaced by computers. Critical, analytical thinking is one such competency that will differentiate candidates in the future workplace. Companies value strategic, critical thinking.
- Decision-making. Decisions need to be made daily at work. Decisions are diverse, from what to include in a presentation, to what word to use, to how to shift strategies based on analyzing numbers. Employers seek adept decision-makers to help guide organizations and teams forward.
- Leadership skills. To move up the career ladder, leadership skills are vital. This includes how you motivate teams, how to sell your vision and how you help increase productivity levels based on the way you interact with others.
- Communication skills. Communication skills are needed in every aspect of your professional and personal life. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of colleagues, you learn how to communicate with them to achieve better results. In negotiations, communication skills are integral to close good deals. They are also needed to engage, inspire and inform, including both written and verbal communication.
With this in mind, it’s time to get started on your future careers. Start from within, map out an ideal career path and start researching. Then ask for feedback from friends and colleagues that you trust, on what they perceive your strengths and weaknesses to be.