The Workforce in the 21st Century (Part I)

The pandemic has accelerated changes in the workforce that will have far-reaching implications for businesses, the workforce, and all people. It is hard to prepare for jobs that do not exist today and to understand what critical skills and qualifications will enable people to find jobs and opportunities in the future. As robotics, Artificial Intelli-gence (AI), and automation become more and more present in the workplace, what skills do people need to compete for jobs? There is a split occurring in the workplace. There will continue to be a demand for physical skills in logistics, transportation, warehousing, and distribution. There will also be a demand for technological skills, social skills, and higher-level cognitive skills in the emerging workforce. As more automation and digitalization occur in the workplace, people will need foundational skills. Three essential criteria include:

• Added value beyond what AI or automated machines can do
• Operating in a digital environment
• Continuous learning and adapting new ways of work and technology
We are creatures of habits and set patterns, but work and the workplace moving forward in the 21st Century will be constantly changing and requiring new ways of doing things and a different mindset from the workforce. So here are some critical skillsets people should start to consider developing and honing:
• How to structurally solve problems, which means developing systematic ways to think.
Logical reasoning will require workers to use existing knowledge to draw conclusions, make predictions, or construct explanations for work challenges. It requires a rigorous process and thinking.
Understanding biases and the ability to set aside biases, look at current facts without emotions, and discern facts from fiction or non-truths.
Seeking relevant information. Understanding what is important and what is  not important.
• Strong storytelling and public speaking skills will be essential. The ability to capture the imagination and inspire is part of storytelling and success. Therefore, how to develop a narrative will be critical.
Asking the right questions. Our human nature is we don’t want to look stupid, so we don’t ask questions, but the workplace in the 21st Century requires the ability to ask questions and seek understanding.
Synthesizing the messaging calls for the ability to take parts and make a whole, coherent message. So, again, people who can connect the dots and see the whole picture will be essential.
Active listening requires us to be engaged while someone else speaks in a  positive way.
Mental Flexibility:
Creativity, imagination and seeing the invisible will become more and more critical to finding new ways of doing things.
Translating knowledge to different contexts requires deep thinking to see the potential in totally unrelated things. As a result, the greatest breakthroughs have come with “mashups” and pivots that were not planned.
Adopting a different perspective by understanding what the competition is doing and why this opens a person to a deeper understanding.
The ability to learn will be crucial, as well as the ability to re-learn again and again, and to be lifelong learners will become critical in the next twenty years.
The skills to compete in the workplace are changing and changing fast. It is time to re-think how we develop talent and core skillsets.