What Job Skills Are Most Important For the Future?

Employers, employees and job seekers all want to know: “What are the important job skills for the future?” The problem is-nobody knows!

The Trouble with Job Forecasting

Every few weeks a business magazine, Internet site, or popular press publication produces an article forecasting the jobs and careers most in demand over the next year, few years, or even decade. The problem is that these predictions are based on current data and trends, and often rely on straight-line extrapolations of current employment data. Frequently demographic and technological information is incorporated into the equation. Additional projections and analysis may be performed but none of these techniques are particularly accurate for forecasting future conditions. This is because the “explosion” in technology means that many jobs that don’t even exist today will represent major career opportunities in the future.

The Job and Career Situation

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s graduates will have 10-14 jobs by the time they reach age 38! In the current workforce, only 25{40f8b9e939a1f8880e4e068699181ea0c065f7fafc0e6f64c88497a3f07e42aa} of employees have been in their present job more than a year; while 50{40f8b9e939a1f8880e4e068699181ea0c065f7fafc0e6f64c88497a3f07e42aa} have been there less than 5!

The top 10 “in-demand” jobs for 2010 did not even exist in 2004″ (statistics from “Did You Know?” video created by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Jeff Bronman, for Corinthian Colleges, Parthenon IV, 2009). Corinthian Colleges (which includes Everest Universities, Colleges and Institutes as well as WyoTech) says that they are “preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…using technologies that haven’t been invented”…”to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” CCi (Corinthian Colleges, Inc.) has many initiatives to address these challenges, including technology, curriculum, modes of student contact and instructional interface. Most importantly, recognition of the challenge, a willingness to change, an investment in classroom technology, and a “can do” attitude pave the way to the future.

This is not to say that other firms and educational institutions do not share this vision of the future, or a willingness to change. But it is an example of a progressive and proactive approach.

How does One Prepare?

It’s challenging to prepare for a future when there is so much uncertainty, and things are changing so rapidly. What is needed is not only a “skill set” but a “mindset.” The technical skills you need to make a living in business, criminal justice, medical or legal fields are important, but given the rate of change, other abilities are at least of equal value.

You’ve probably guessed that one of the keys to success in the emerging environment is education. But education is not enough. You must have an attitude of openness, flexibility, and eagerness to learn, along with willingness, even desire, to embrace change. And, your education must be enriched with learning technologies, and approaches designed to engage the student and teach them to be a “lifelong learner.” It must include technical skills, information technologies, interpersonal and communications skills. It must also incorporate planning, critical thinking and analytical skills. This is a good foundation for any career.