The Importance of Future-Ready Skills

Group of adult learners gaining future ready skills together

Technological advancement continues to impact the world of work, necessitating the skill development strategies of reskilling and upskilling. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated automation and digitalization of work as organizations scrambled to restructure where and how work is done. A Future of Jobs Report, published by the World Economic Forum, goes into great detail about continuous changes and advances related to job projections in most industries. While some organizations are developing internal reskilling and upskilling programs, the report also emphasizes the need for individuals to take personal responsibility for skill expansion, career development, and lifelong learning. 

The McKinsey Global Institute's Future of Work Report After COVID-19 also highlights occupational and workforce transitions and the importance of reskilling. The report states that the technological advancement of Industrial Revolution #4 will continue to impact the work lives of Americans in entry-level jobs all the way up to senior positions. The takeaway message is that the human element is still crucial, but what we do and how we do it will be augmented. Just as with previous industrial revolutions, some jobs will change, others will grow, some will disappear, and jobs that don't exist today will emerge.

As a result of the pandemic and with little warning, millions of workers were furloughed. Millions of others began working remotely, accentuating the need for solid digital and communications skills. Remote work also underscores the need for reasoning skills, such as problem-solving, innovation, and self-management. Additionally, workers are encouraged to build self-reliance, stress tolerance, and resilience to better cope with the changing landscape of work. 

Experts agree that there will be increasing demand for top high-tech skills. Soft skills are also crucial as artificial intelligence cannot yet duplicate critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and other human elements. Although change can create anxiety, it is encouraging that studies show that technology will likely create more jobs than it eliminates, especially for those with a growth mindset. 

Reskilling is more achievable with a growth mindset -- the conviction that you are in control of your ability to learn and improve as well as a willingness to accept change, adapt, and grow. Workers with a growth mindset are more inclined to strive for and reach goals, experience less stress and anxiety, and have higher performance and motivation levels. 

Motivation is another critical factor in adapting and growing. Psychologists, motivational speakers, and, well, Oprah, suggest that the key to motivation is finding your why -- your reason or purpose for doing something. Your why can motivate you to follow through on your goals, especially when motivation withers or when you are tempted to put your career on autopilot rather than being future-ready and managing it proactively. 

Being future-ready is an element of proactive career management. It's an ongoing process that includes continuously monitoring and evaluating the job market against your skillset. It's the active pursuit of developing new expertise or qualifications to enhance your skillset, expand your capabilities, and remain a valuable member of the workforce. Being future-ready means learning new and advanced technical skills and developing soft skills in demand for your specific career goal -- whether through employer offerings or by seeking opportunities for informal training, formal education, and practical experience. 

There are numerous reasons to be future-ready. For example:

  • Futureproofing your career
  • Supporting career transitions
  • Preventing obsolescence
  • Developing in-demand skills
  • Discovering new interests
  • Expanding your network of contacts

Whatever your why, experts advise that skill development is essential to survive and thrive in the workplace.

Written by: Barbara Van Dyk

July 20, 2021

About the Author

Barbara Van Dyk headshot

Barbara is an experienced career counselor with a Master’s Degree in Counseling & Guidance from New York University, an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, and more than 20 years’ experience in the academic and corporate worlds.