We live in an accelerating world. Old industries are becoming obsolete as new ones are born. Nearly 65 percent of elementary school students’ jobs in the future don’t even exist yet, according to a World Economic Forum report. We are rapidly transforming our workforce and knowledge base.
This leaves us with a crucial question: What skills will future generations need?
This question has occupied Tony Wagner’s life. After studying the education sector, interviewing industry leaders, and studying the global workforce at large, Wagner identified seven survival skills. Young people need these skills and mindsets to succeed.
1. The ability to think critically and solve problems
In our efforts to teach students how to answer questions, we often neglect to teach them how to ask them. A critical thinker’s foundation is good questions. Solving a problem requires critically analyzing and questioning what is causing it. It is for this reason that critical thinking and problem solving go hand in hand.
Wagner notes that the workforce today is very different from what it was a few years ago. We are seeing diverse teams working on specific problems rather than specialists. The answers and solutions are not in your manager’s hands – you must seek them out yourself.
Above all, this skill set lays the foundation for innovation. It is necessary to question the status quo and criticize it before we can innovate and prescribe an alternative.
2. Leading by influence and collaborating across networks
Contingent workforces are a major trend today. In five years, 40% of companies’ workers will be non-permanent or remote. The percentage of full-time employees working in the cloud is even higher. Multinational corporations have their employees collaborate from offices around the world.
Work and collaboration transcend geographical boundaries thanks to technology. Youth need to be prepared for collaboration across digital networks and with individuals from radically different backgrounds. Global online collaboration will increase as curricular objectives and intercultural understanding are promoted through digital tools, according to a New Horizons report on education.
Rather than commanding with top-down authority, leadership among a team is about influence rather than command. Finally, Wagner points out, “it’s about how citizens make change in their local communities-by influencing diverse groups and then creating alliances of groups that work together.”
3. Flexibility and adaptability
The world is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. A strategy should be able to adapt and be re-defined as necessary.
In their book, “Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World,” Richard Paul & Dillion Beach note the traditional approach to education and work. “We learned how to do something once, then repeated it. They write that learning is habituation. “But what does it mean to continually learn?” How do you learn constantly? ”””
The post-industrial era has required us to be agile and adaptive to unpredictable disruptions. Some skills and mindsets may have to be learned on demand, while others may have to be retired.
4. The ability to take initiative and be entrepreneurial
Traditionally, students have shown initiative regardless of their schoolwork or in addition to it. Students often develop entrepreneurial skills and a sense of initiative as part of extracurricular activities. Traditionally, curricula tend to focus on short-term tests and knowledge rather than inspiring doers and innovators.
Is our youth being taught how to lead? Do we encourage them to take initiative? How are we empowering them to address global challenges? Business leaders are having trouble finding employees who consistently seek new ideas, opportunities, and strategies for improvement, Wagner has found throughout his research.
5. Communicating effectively orally and in writing
Almost 89 percent of employers surveyed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills reported that high school graduates were “deficient” in communication skills.
Using proper language and grammar isn’t the only key to clear communication. It is often said that communicating clearly is an extension of thinking clearly. Do you have the ability to persuade others with your arguments? Are you able to inspire others with your passion? Would you be able to concisely summarize what you are trying to say? Would you be able to promote yourself or a product?
Like many others, Richard Branson has noted that communication is the most important skill a leader can possess. It is a skill that can be learned and therefore has the potential to open up many doors.
6. Information Assessment and Analysis
In today’s world, we live in an era of information. Data is created every day at a rate of 2.5 quintillion bytes. This infographic shows that this would fill 10 million Blu-ray disks.
The availability of information has dramatically increased, but so has the availability of misinformation. There is a lack of instruction about assessing the source of information and evaluating its content for students navigating the digital world. We are constantly updating our knowledge base, so this information is constantly evolving.
In addition, an active and informed citizen will have to be able to critically evaluate information from multiple sources in the age of fake news.
7. A sense of curiosity and imagination
Innovation and new knowledge are driven by curiosity. To truly imagine something even better, we need a sense of wonder and awe similar to that of a child. To envision breakthroughs and then execute them requires powerful imagination. Albert Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Students are spoon-fed information instead of being empowered to ask questions. Thinking outside the box and being inquisitive need to be treated equally to physics and math in schools.
The Future of Education: Transforming it
The focus of education today contrasts starkly with these seven survival skills of the future. Students should be taught to ask questions instead of answering them. As opposed to preparing them for college, we should prepare them for life.
In addition to creating better employees, we must strive to create better leaders and innovators. In addition to radically transforming education and the workforce, we will also be transforming our world.