• Do well in the modern world: master the core skills you need for success

Challenges of Present

Our life is getting transformed

New developments occur daily in all areas of our life. Today, having mobile devices with unprecedented capacity and instant, unlimited access to information is as usual as having a book forty years ago.

Technology breakthroughs such as autonomous cars, nanotechnology, energy storage, robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and so on are gradually becoming commonplace. These developments, whether we like it or not, will transform not only the way we live, but the way we work as well.

Some jobs will become obsolete and others, even unknown ones, will be created instead of them. It is hard and almost impossible to predict the most popular jobs of the future, but futurologists have already come up with some ideas about the skills that will likely be the most crucial.

It is evident that education will be affected alongside the sphere of employment. New practices, work patterns, and technologies are reshaping what we need to learn, as well as how and where we learn.

Episodic schooling is transforming into a lifelong learning process. Abundant and pervasive resources and opportunities, not scare or localized ones, are becoming available for learners of all ages.

And the most important fact is that we won’t need to master particular disciplines because we will have to acquire fundamental skills that will help us to learn everything we want, in any discipline, as well as act and meet any challenges that we encounter along our way.

The vital professional skills

According to recent surveys by CareerBuilder, companies already have difficulties with finding qualified candidates to fill their open positions.

Employers say that it looks like colleges are not doing enough to prepare students for the next level of their lives in the working world. Inappropriate degrees are only the tip of the iceberg.

Graduates have many issues with current requirements: a lack of technical or computer skills, a lack of creativity and problem-solving, and a lack of soft skills.

Candidates often fail to produce a positive impression during job interviews (it’s better not to mention their resumes and cover letters). Having a college degree and some computer skills is not enough anymore to find a good job.

The following list is a rough list of vital skills needed for succeeding at the professional level:

  • Learning skills – The ability to be open to new ideas and experiences. Learning process does not mean only studying or schooling, it means acquiring new knowledge via various activities, beginning with an everyday occurrence like cooking to more sophisticated ones like practicing yoga.

    Practical approaches and tools help hold information more easily in one’s mind, improve attention and concentration, spot the gaps in knowledge and tackle procrastination that causes unwillingness to learn.

    Laszlo Bock, the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, says, “The number one thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not IQ. It’s the ability to process on the fly.”

  • Problem-solving skills – The statement of John Foster Dulles, the 52nd United States Secretary of the State, is an old truth: “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”

    If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we will be stuck at a certain point having the same challenges. Every day we deal with lots of problems – simple or complex, large or small. Having a right approach always leads to solving them effectively and quickly.

    Unfortunately, today very few people are good problem solvers. "This is a generation that has been 'syllabused' through their lives. Decisions were made for them, so we're less likely to find someone who can pull the trigger and make a decision," Marie Artim, vice president of talent acquisition for Enterprise, told The Washington Post.

  • Decision-making skills involve selecting the best possible solutions to the problem, through reasoned or intuitive process, or a blend of the two.

    Nowadays, people often have to work or learn under pressure of various circumstances, starting from a large amount of information to deadlines that are growing closer. Thus, fast thinking and acting are important as never before.

    Simon Sinek, a British author and motivational speaker, says, “Look down from as high as possible. Look ahead as far as you can see. Then decide what to do.”

  • Critical thinking skills – the ability to think rationally and clearly, seeing the logical connection between various ideas – represent our capacity to understand and foresee possible consequences and solutions of a particular problem.

    Charles Clarke, former UK Secretary of State for Education, said, “The most important attribute that education can bring to anyone is the ability to think critically. In an era where information and knowledge are universally available, it is the power to comprehend access and analyse which makes the difference – those are the critical thinking skills.”

  • Creative thinking skills are the ability to generate new ideas. Brainstorming activity is a form of creative thinking.

    Sir Ken Robinson, a British speaker, author and international advisor on education, once said, “Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”

    People or interpersonal skills: “Liberal arts plus decent interpersonal skills — the ability to converse, to make eye contact, to speak in complete sentences, to recognize one's responsibility, to listen to another perspective are equal fairly decent job prospects,” says Lee Burdett Williams, dean at Wheaton College, Massachusetts.

  • Leadership skills - The generation of Millennials is not interested in a traditional corporate ladder, but 63% of them want to lead in the workplace according to The Hartford's 2013 Millennial Leadership Survey.

    Being ambitious is not enough for being a leader. Leadership skills must be developed and mastered.

  • Oral communication skills – Digital communication is making more traditional modes less ideal. A casual style of communication often is not appropriate for working with clients.

  • Written communicational skills – “Incorrect grammar, spelling and language usage can make a very bad impression. Using an informal style — relying on abbreviations, not using punctuation and failing to capitalize — does not come across as professional,” said Joyce E.A. Russell, the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

  • That is why the time is now to start improving ourselves both on a personal and professional level. Our future is in our hands.

    Possessing strong cognitive abilities is our future

    With rapid technological progress, we can already see more changes in health, ICT, electronics and scientific sectors rather than in low- or medium-skilled occupations, which require less technologically-exposed tasks.

    European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) predicts that the jobs most threatened by automation are those requiring manual or physical skills, customer service skills and numerical skills.

    In contrast to them, the jobs having more promising prospects are the ones characterized by high level of cognitive skills, planning skills, advanced digital skills and communicational skills.

    That is why we can suppose that healthcare providers, engineering, professional and managerial occupations (financial and business operations) as well as closely related to science (applications and software developers, data analysts) will have increased in demand.

    It follows that the most valuable workers will probably be individuals possessing strong cognitive abilities (e.g. ICT literacy, media, and information literacy, active learning), high levels of cross-functional skills (e.g. complex problem-solving, social skills, resource-management, collaboration, creativity) as well as advanced technical skills.

    The list of jobs may vary, but we can say for sure that the labor market will rely on individuals who acquire these kinds of skills and qualifications.

    Become whoever you want

    Unfortunately, our schooling fails to provide us with all necessary strategies and skills for success – not only when it comes to standardized tests, but throughout our entire lifetime. Y Skills Institute's goal is to provide everyone with these invaluable skills.

    As we cannot stop the so-called technological revolution, we must get ready to survive in it. We have no choice but to adapt to new standards and acquire as many useful skills as possible. This is the only way to catch up with the challenges of the present and near future.

    On the other hand, it is a prime time for choosing a right direction and acting appropriately, as we have all the trumps in our hands. We must be awoken by all the challenges we are facing, and not be threatened or filled with desperation.

    It is our chance to become whomever we want, to change the field of activity, to make a difference in the world. With the help of new skills, everything will be possible. So, just start the change with yourself and this exciting process will be a one-way ticket to the future.