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The future world of work

One thing is certain. The world of work of tomorrow will be radically different from today.  

When thinking about the future, which direction to head, or even changes to employment, we need to better understand what that future is going to look like. What skills, knowledge and attributes will be important for success. We know that many of the jobs around today will likely be changed beyond recognition by global trends. This makes it all the more important that when we embark on future decision making we consider what will be required when entering the workforce.

Dave Stanbury, from the University of Huddersfield, has dedicated considerable research into the future world of work and produced a publication addressing this topic.  

What are the most important skills for the future?  

While different employers need different skills for different roles, common themes can be clearly heard. Many employers are looking for a solid base in a particular domain combined with the ability to work across disciplines, across roles and across cultures. Soft skills, emotional intelligence and technological competence are often prized 

New roles are emerging rapidly and established careers are adapting to Artificial Intelligence and the use of robots, so lifelong learning, resilience and the ability to flex will be crucial. This means that the development of soft skills, like team playing and resilience, often becomes as important as the technical skills gained through studies.

The CEO of QS Global Skills Gap said: ‘To thrive in the world of international business today demands an entirely different set of skills than was expected even a decade ago. Now more than ever, global professionals face a ‘VUCA’ environment—one that’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The skills needed to navigate this new, globalized business landscape aren’t the ‘hard skills’ of, say, analysis or accounting. While strong technical know-how is still essential, it’s the ‘soft skills’ that mean the difference between success and survival.” 

Whether you’re hoping to land a job at a top company, seek a new career abroad, or launch your own business venture, these are the skills that you need: • Cross-cultural communication skills • Excellent networking abilities • Collaboration • Interpersonal influence • Adaptive thinking • Emotional intelligence • Resilience 

Where will the opportunities exist?  

Business and other services activities, including professional services, scientific research and development and information technology are expected to see the strongest rates of job growth with combined growth of close to 2m over the course of the decade. Another source of growth is expected to be caring, leisure and other service roles, with more than 400,000 additional jobs. Education, health and care are expected to add over 1 million jobs by 2030, business services around 1.5 million, and the creative sector 1 million jobs.  

Manufacturing will shrink and is forecasted to decline yet advanced and additive manufacturing are likely to expand. The space sector is forecast to grow from £8 billion to £40 billion by 2030.  

Technological advances combined with changing working cultures will drive an increase in mobile working, with fewer locational constraints. Portfolio careers will become increasingly common. The growth of digital platforms will facilitate the rise of the gig economy, with work more piecemeal and task-based. There will be more high–tech, high touch roles involving greater skills and more creative, nonrepetitive forms of work. A long tail of low-skilled work is likely to remain in place.  

Further information

Sources used (Future Proof Britain, Working Futures). Further information available from Dave Stanbury D.stanbury@hud.ac.uk 

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