What do you want to be when you grow up?
The age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is becoming increasingly challenging to answer and plan for.
McCrindle, an Australian research company predicts that 44 per cent of Australian jobs are at risk from digital disruption within 20 years. Many jobs and industries will soon disappear or transform so radically that they will be almost indistinguishable.
What can we invest in as individuals, parents, leaders and educators to future-proof ourselves and upcoming generations? The answer is arguably to ask not what do you want to be when you grow up, but who will you be and how will you develop skills that transcend any one job or industry.
The message from futurists, economists and analysts is clear. The jobs least likely to be outsourced to machines or low cost countries are those that require creative intelligence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence and higher order thinking.
These skills, along with other ‘soft skills’ or employability skills, are the key ingredient in future proofing. Further, they are highly valued by employers with 97 per cent recognising that they are critical to business success. Soft skills are competencies that take time to develop and require lifelong practice. However, tangible returns will come with:
Starting early. Parents, teachers and mentors encourage development at school and at clubs. Suggested focus areas include social skills, communication, high-order thinking (problem-solving, critical thinking, decision-making), self-control, positive self-concept and digital literacy and STEM.
Continuously learning. Competency based training, courses, on the job learning, self-study drives development in specialised areas. Suggested focus areas include leadership, communication, emotional intelligence, project and risk management, time management, planning, innovation, design, requirements analysis.
Seeking mentors. The law of averages suggests that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. Same with relationships. We are greatly influenced by those closest to us. It affects our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions. Seeking mentors and support who want you to succeed, but also can provide constructive criticism, will assist you to hone and improve strengths and weaknesses in your soft skills. Finally — practice, practice.
KEY SOFT SKILLS FOR EMPLOYABILITY
Interpersonal: Communication, collaboration, confidence, teamwork, empathy, resilience, adaptability, positive attitude, emotional intelligence, leadership.
Work ethic: Adaptability, time management, integrity, responsibility, ethics, discipline, reliability, learning.
Innovation: Information analysis, critical thinking, design, problem solving, creative thinking, trend analysis, global mind-set, lateral thinking, learning attitude.
Technical: STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), digital literacy, coding, financial literacy, project management, risk management.