5 Strengths Workers Need for the Future

If you don't have the right 21st-century skills, you may have a hard time remaining employable in the future. Tomorrow's work success will hinge on mastering skills you might not currently possess or even realize employers want, according to the Future Work Skills 2020 report by Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute. Read on to learn about the five trends you need to stay on top of if you want to ensure future employment:

1. Knowledge in related fields
Imagine every worker is a T-shape, says Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, PhD, Apollo Research Institute's vice president and managing director. On the T's vertical line, the worker has deep knowledge in a specific field or a higher education degree in that field. On the horizontal line, the person must also have broader expertise in related areas such as business and have the ability to collaborate with specialists in those spheres. "In the past, a generalist or a specialist may have been the ideal candidate. Today's jobs require workers who share characteristics of both - and are able to operate in more technical environments."

2. Virtual collaboration
Collaboration isn't a new concept for organizations. "However, virtual collaboration is becoming more prevalent because of the rise in telework and virtual organizations," Wilen-Daugenti says. Workers need to know more than how to operate Google Docs™, Skype™ or other collaborative technologies. They also need to know when and how to engage in virtual communication through social technologies such as Yammer or Salesforce Chatter, in addition to understanding how to develop virtual teams and business, she says.

3. Social intelligence
Social intelligence is often confused with emotional intelligence, Wilen-Daugenti warns. "For workers, social intelligence is a sophisticated form of networking and complex social interactions. It's knowing how and where to engage the right people with the right experience by using the right combination of research, analytic and technology skills to fulfill a shared purpose." Think of it as the individual worker's version of crowdsourcing on a global and cross-cultural scale: It's a way to influence, communicate and educate.

4. Multimedia literacy
Workers must be able to move beyond arbitrarily reviewing videos, social media and other visual technologies, and toward integrating a multitude of media to convey or interpret work-related concepts, Wilen-Daugenti says. Educators will need to craft lesson-specific videos, for example, to demonstrate concepts visually.

5. Global perspective
Employees must have an international-consumer mindset. "Instead of focusing on one aspect of a work project, you will need to be strategic and recognize what interconnected activities influence one another," Wilen-Daugenti says, adding that the customer should also be a consideration. "If I'm manufacturing a product, it's not enough to focus on making a good product. I have to take into account the use of the product and the context it will be used in from the viewpoint of the user."

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-By Marissa Yaremich

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