The skills we all need for future-fit careers

Are these the skills everyone needs in the 21st century?

Over the last 10 years since Apple unveiled the first iPhone to the world, we have experienced major digital disruptions across all industries. It’s like a Pandora’s box of opportunities has been opened and the world has been changing at a breakneck speed ever since.

Of course not everyone is comfortable with change, technological advancements in recent times have started to strike fear into some communities.

I find many people are now fearing what the effect of rapidly evolving technology will be on the job market.

More than ever I see articles and listen to conversations around the fear of automation and robots taking jobs from humans. Now if any of you have actually seen the current generation of robots in action, I’m sure you wouldn’t feel that worried in their current capabilities of replacing us.

However times will change and automation in particular is on the rise. The continual digital revolution will mean that some careers and skill sets will become obsolete. We must face into the fact that the careers of today, might not be the ones of tomorrow and with this we need to look at how we can evolve our skills to match the need from the market of the future.



The skills of the future?

A colleague recently shared an article with me (one that I can frustratingly not locate as I write this) which focused on something called the four c’s of learning for the 21st century.

Basically this article gave an overview on how automating processes worldwide through technology has been causing a wealth of people to lose their jobs across many industries.

It went onto examine how we can help people build what have been classed as the key skills for the 21st century.

They’re skills that only a human could effectively use and it went onto discuss if these should be the core skills that everyone needs as a baseline for a future-fit career.


The Four C’s of Learning in the 21st Century

The skills that were promoted as vital for everyone to succeed in future careers and arguably today too are:

Critical Thinking




I personally feel these are critical skills that everyone should have now in some capacity and be continually developing.

These will be the skills that cannot be replaced by a machine. Humans will always be required to provide the creativity to build new products and processes that will enable machines to perform a role.

On the face of it, many people will say that these are basic skills and yes they are, yet how many people are actually skilled in these areas? from my experience it’s not many and neither are they looking to continually improve these.




How do we develop these skills for all?

The first idea that pops into my head is teaching these as mandatory in the school curriculum at a young age.

I have a number of disagreements with the way the education system is designed in my own home country of the UK, but investing in resources and experiences to help students develop these critical skills instead of a lot of the bloat that is delivered, would be a significant improvement in my eyes.

The next layer of course would be to address this in the workplace environment too.

If any organisation wants to produce and keep top talent, then investing again in resources and experiences to enable the development of these skills is vital.

Ultimately, the development of these skills will come down to a continuous learning approach.

We’ll all need to be better at adapting to the world we operate in and maybe mastering these 4 skills will be of great benefit in allowing use to work alongside new technologies.

If you think about it, haven’t these been key skills and behaviours we’ve used in navigating life since the dawn of civilisation?


Looking forward

I’m of the belief that these 4 skills are a strong foundation to a well rounded talent stack of skills and behaviours.

They are skills that have been necessary for our civilisation to evolve and constantly innovate for a very long time. This is why I can understand the reasons they’re now touted as the skills that will fight off the robots. It’s because they’ve always been the key skills we’ve used to continually innovate and push boundaries.

So should these be the skills that we focus on across all generations to prepare us for the future world of work and working even closer with technology?


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