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New World Skills

With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution comes big change. Change in the way we do things, what we value, how we learn, how we adapt, how we collaborate – not only amongst ourselves but how we collaborate and integrate with technology, AI and our digital world.

It is said that “Five years from now, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.”  (Alex Gray, senior writer for World Economic Forum (

35% change in 5 years from now!

Are you READY?

The table below, published in The World Economic Forum report on “The Future of Jobs” highlights the top 10 skills needed for 2020 in comparison to those needed in 2015.
(Source: In the World economic Forum Report on “The Future of Jobs”

What I find most interesting here is the shift in Creativity moving from 10th place in 2015 to 3rd most important in 2020. We are going to have to become much more creative in the way we think and act if we are to stay in the game.

The other striking shift is that Emotional Intelligence which does not even feature in the 2015 list has the number 6 spot in 2020.

Cognitive Flexibility or mental agility also now features prominently in the New World.

In my opinion, an additional core skill, especially from a South African perspective, that will feature prominently over the next few years is Digital Fluency. Digital Fluency is about being able to use technology in a strategic way, our ability to select and use different available technologies, to critically evaluate the relevance and accuracy of information and our migration towards becoming responsible, contributing Digital Citizens.

To embrace this new world, we are going to need a serious overhaul in the way we think about developing these skills. In our old Industrialized World, that was predictable, with one source of truth, where jobs were predictable and people were resources – just cogs in one giant wheel, training was sufficient. However contrast this industrialized world with our New Digital World, and suddenly our axioms begin to crumble.

In our New Digital World we have an abundance of information and sources of truth, routine tasks are automated, and we have an increased focus on Creativity and Problem Solving. In this world Training is no longer an option. Instead, enter Learning and the rise of the New Self-Directed Learner!

As stated by Mark Britz, “no longer can training be the cornerstone of organisational learning; social connection (and self-direction) must be.” (Source: Introducing Muse: Changing the Way the World Thinks.

It is my view that this New Breed of Learner needs to focus on 4 key areas if they want to remain a valued participant in this New World (please notice here that I did not use the words “remain competitive” – this is because our New World is focused on the Sharing Economy, essentially redefining our current world view of scarcity and fierce competition into one in which we are able to embrace an “abundance mindset” (Salim Ismail – Exponential Organisations).

These 4 key areas speak to the “Flipped VUCA.” Now we all know about the traditional VUCA world, much has been spoken and written about this of late. However, being an eternal optimist, when I came across the concept of Filipping the VUCA into something more positive, I got really excited!

The Flipped VUCA speaks to Velocity – Unorthodoxy – Collaboration – Agility. For me these are the “Meta – skills” needed to thrive in the New World. Let’s explore each of these areas in a little more detail.

Velocity: It is my view that Velocity, from a skills perspective, means we need to master Cognitive Flexibility, Deep Analytical Skills paired with competent Decision Making and Negotiation Skills.

Unorthodoxy: Not only refers to creativity, but also creativity as applied to solving complex problems.

Collaboration: For me this is all about the self-mastery and people skills we need to develop. To master collaboration we need high Emotional Intelligence, strong people management / Leadership ability and the aptitude to co-ordinate with others. However in order to act so effectively outwardly a person will have had to Master themselves (high level of self-awareness)!

Agility: To be agile (to act with agility) you will need a “Growth Mind-set.” (C. Dweck) This is what will separate the men from the boys! Having a growth mindset is what will allow us to fail fast, to roll with the punches but most importantly it enables Learning Agility.

Learning Agility, in my view lies at the heart of it all because if we do not become self – Directed Learners that embrace the world with a curiousness, a belief that we can change, learn, and grow. A pervasive knowing that no matter what challenges we face we can learn from them and we can overcome. Without this, there is nothing left to separate us from the Machines!

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