By Jason O’Neill, Kepner-Tregoe
Technological change has injected anxiety about the future throughout the workforce. Advancements, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and next-generation e-commerce, generate exciting possibilities for what individuals and companies will be able to do in the future as well as concerns about how these technologies could hurt people’s jobs, livelihoods and communities. This transition into a new era of technology will fundamentally change both the type of work humans perform and how they perform it. It’s understandable that people are anxious as they face the disruptive changes of these technological advances.
The core skills applicable to all industries and all jobs
There are the foundational skills that continue to make humans a powerful force as individuals, employees and members of their communities, especially in an environment of constant change. Whether one is a retail employee in a store, a technology analyst in an office or a skilled manufacturing worker on the line, the same core set of skills drive success.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Work study, critical-thinking, problem-solving and decision- making are among the top skills that will be in demand through 2028 and beyond. These are not new skills – they are the skills that enabled our ancestors to be effective hunters and gatherers, farmers and builders. They are the skills that have led to every technological innovation and cultural advancement throughout history.
Some things won’t change
As organizations struggle to meet the workforce transitions that will continue to occur, it is important to understand that, while technology is evolving (and will continue to do so), the core skills that have made employees valuable assets in the past will provide the foundation for their contribution to the organization’s future success. Investing in these skills through training, mentoring and on-the-job-experience opportunities can help employees embrace change and adapt to the new challenges of a technology-enabled workplace.
New technologies, processes and business challenges create opportunities for employees to solve new problems, create new products and reveal more efficient ways to support an organization’s goals.
Emerging technologies won’t solve every problem and they will create new ones. The ability to think critically and resolve complex, time-critical issues will continue to provide enduring value.
A focus on the fundamentals in preparation for change
Now is the best time for companies to invest in their employees by helping them develop and refine their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills—to train them for new challenges today in preparation for the future. Problem-solving best practices, simulation-based critical-thinking exercises and on-the-job training combined with one-on-one coaching can provide an environment for employees to develop new skills and refine their current skills. As they continue to support your current needs they can also prepare for new, as yet unknown challenges.
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Kepner-Tregoe helps HR and L&D leaders build the workforce of the future through a unique combination of training and consulting services. For over 60 years, Kepner-Tregoe has empowered thousands of companies to solve millions of problems and dramatically improve the way works gets done.