Friday, July 8, 2016

15 Essential Skills Your Students Must Develop Now To Meet The Challenges Of An Uncertain Future


What are you preparing your students for? College or career? The next grade level? Standardized tests? Or something more? We can't afford to be shortsighted in these challenging times. But is it even possible to predict what students will need to be successful in the future? The world is changing at such a rapid pace, the only constant seems to be rapid change and increased uncertainty. 

In fact, one report estimated that 7 million jobs will disappear globally within the next five years. The same article reported over 2 million newly created jobs will help offset that loss. These new opportunities will emerge in technology, professional services, and media. These extreme shifts are happening because of advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.

Of students entering primary schools today, 65% will someday work in jobs that don't yet exist. That is staggering to contemplate. You can even use this handy calculator to find out the likelihood your job could be automated in coming years.

LinkedIn published a list of jobs advertised on its site that barely existed five years ago. 8 of the 10 jobs on the list belong to the digital world—Android developer, digital marketing specialist, cloud services specialist—to name a few. It's easy to see examples of how technology is changing the workplace.

Beyond the implications for employment, changes in population, politics, culture, climate, diversity, etc. will also present significant challenges in other areas of life. Being 'future-ready' goes beyond just 'college/career' readiness, because life extends beyond our need to earn a living. 

Tragic events in just the last few months illustrate the magnitude of the problems we face in our contemporary world. Just last night there were the Dallas Police Shootings, preceded by the Philando Castille shooting in Minnesota and Alton Sterling shooting in Louisiana. This summer we've had Brexit, more ISIS bombings, the Orlando night club massacre, and more bad news about rising ocean levels and climate change.

While the future should be viewed with optimism, the current headlines are warnings of the need for change. To navigate the challenges of these disruptive times, we need the mindset of adaptable learners. It's the ability to adjust to meet the needs of the future by learning, unlearning, and relearning. We must develop the ability to quickly learn the knowledge and skills needed to survive and ultimately thrive.


The list below includes 15 skills that will help your students adapt and be ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

1. Problem-Solving

It's not enough to know information. You must know how to apply information to new contexts and use reasoning and critical thinking skills to find solutions.

2. Creativity 

The ability to develop new ideas is extremely valuable. People will create value by divergent thinking and seeing problems in completely new ways. Creativity is art, but it's not just art. It extends to every area of life and thought.

3. Communication Skills

Both written and verbal communication skills are needed to express ideas and create content. 

4. Taking Risks

Adaptable learners are willing to take risks to try new things. They step out of their comfort zone to pursue learning and innovation. Fear of failure doesn't hold them back.

5. Continuous Growth

It's not enough to develop expertise in an area and then ride the wave the rest of your life. Constantly growing and learning and building on expertise is the wave of the future.

6. Recognizing Opportunities

Adaptable learners see new possibilities and seize them. They don't wait on the sidelines hoping things will work out for them. Instead, they jump into the game when a great chance comes along.

7. Building Networks

Being connected is critical for adaptability. Learning is multiplied when you draw on the power of your network. Networks are a source of help, support, encouragement, and ideas.

8. Utilizing Teamwork

Teamwork involves shared ownership of goals, tasks, and outcomes. Together we are able to achieve more. A high-performing team is characterized by positive interdependence of team members. Or in other words, you have each other's backs.

9. Leveraging Resources

An adaptable learner uses available resources to the maximum. As future resources become scarce, it will require wisdom for how and when to use resources to provide the greatest value to self and others. 

10. Managing Change

Change can be unsettling and even frightening. The learner who will thrive in the future won't deny change or simply react to change. With the right mindset, it's possible to shape and influence change while remaining flexible. 

11. Interpersonal Skills

Learners need skills to relate to others positively. Our success in life is tied closely to our social skills. Empathy, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness characterize the adaptable learner.

12. Embracing Diversity

Globalization continues to make our world smaller and more interconnected. Diversity will be more evident in every aspect of life. As a result, there will be even greater need to work effectively with others who have racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds different from our own. 

13. Life Mission/Purpose

When learners recognize a purpose for life beyond themselves and work to make the world a better place, everyone benefits. A future ready learner recognizes the need to give back.

14. Sharing Knowledge

Adaptable learners create value, not by storing up knowledge, but by sharing it with others. Being recognized as an expert comes from the influence of sharing what you know and the ideas that identify your brand.

15. Perseverance

Perseverance is perhaps the most important skill of all. The future will demand the ability to stay with problems longer, to be persistent, and to never give up.

Question: What skills would you add or remove from this list? How are you helping your students become adaptable learners? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter
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