We are certainly living in interesting times. There’s even an acronym some people are using to describe it: VUCA, which means Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

According to Sir Ken Robinson, international creativity, innovation and education expert: “Humanity now faces challenges that are unprecedented in our history. These challenges are being driven by many interacting forces. They include the exponential rate of technological change, the massive shifts in population, and our unsustainable demands on the earth’s resources.”

Right now, of course, we don’t know where any of this will lead and how, specifically, things will change, we just know that they will and we know we need to be prepared.

In its 2016 Future of Jobs Report, The World Economic Forum predicts that some job families are expected to expand, while others will shrink. Computer, mathematical, architecture and engineering jobs are all expected to grow, whilst manufacturing, production, office and administrative jobs are expected to decline. If you’re curious to find out more about what the immediate future of work looks like, check out the 2016 Future of Jobs report.

And if you want to see how your own job fares you can check out: Will robots take my job. Yes, really.

No one knows the precise impact artificial intelligence is likely to have but we can be sure that vast numbers of jobs will be eliminated because of it. It’s not all bad news though, as other jobs are expected to be created in their place, as has happened throughout human history with the contraction of some industries and the creation and expansion of others. What might these new jobs even be? And how do you prepare for a career in an industry that hasn’t yet been invented?

Although we can’t know the answers to these questions with absolute certainty, here are the top skills that the Future of Jobs Report suggest might be most in demand in 2020 (not that far away) and beyond:

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Co-ordinating with others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision-making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility

So, as you can see it’s not all about tech and coding.

Many of these transferable skills have a significant “human” component to them, so beefing up our emotional intelligence and “people smarts” will certainly stand us in good stead.

Fortunately our education systems are recognising the need to foster skills in our young people that go well beyond literacy and numeracy, with many schools in New Zealand and elsewhere adapting to help develop competencies in many of these areas.

In tandem with all of these changes, we are seeing a migration towards the “gig economy” which involves short-term contracts and freelance work, with fewer and fewer people being employed in traditional full-time roles. With this can come reductions in job security, employee protections and benefits such as paid annual leave and sick pay. Zero-hour and “casual” contracts are becoming more commonplace.

Despite the uncertain times in which we’re living, it’s important to realise that there are many things you can do to manage your career path.

Tune in next time when we’ll talk about what all of this might mean for you and how you can you give yourself the best chance of career success.