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Future Work Skills
2020
                                        Institute for the Future for
                                         Apollo Research Institute



            124 University Avenue, 2nd Floor, Palo Alto, CA
                         94301 650.854.6322 www.iftf.org
about the …
i n s t i t u t e f o r t h e fu t ur e

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit strategic
research group with more than 40 years of forecasting experience. The
core of our work is identifying emerging trends and discontinuities that
will transform global society and the global marketplace. We provide our
members with insights into business strategy, design process, innova-
tion, and social dilemmas. Our research spans a broad territory of deeply
transformative trends, from health and health care to technology, the
workplace, and human identity. The Institute for the Future is located in
Palo Alto, California.




A p o l lo R e s e arc h I n s t i t u t e

Apollo Research Institute investigates the value of education for the
current and future workforce. Through academic and industry partner-
ships, Apollo Research Institute makes research-based recommendations
to help leaders ensure today’s workforce is employable tomorrow. Visit
www.apolloresearchinstitute.org.

Apollo Research Institute sponsored this piece of research to increase
understanding of the skills workers will need over the next decade in a
technologically advanced and changing world.




Credits:

Author: Anna Davies, Devin Fidler, Marina Gorbis
Creative Direction: Jean Hagan
Production Editor: Lisa Mumbach
Design and Production: Karin Lubeck, Jody Radzik

©2011 Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction
prohibited without written permission. SR-1382A
Introduction                           1

Methodology                            2

Six Drivers of Change                  3

Future Work Skills Map                 6

Ten Skills for the Future Workforce    8

Implications                          13
i n t r o d uc t i o n




In the 1990s, IBM’s Deep Blue beat grandmaster Gary Kasparov in chess; today IBM’s
Watson supercomputer is beating contestants on Jeopardy. A decade ago, workers
worried about jobs being outsourced overseas; today companies such as ODesk and
LiveOps can assemble teams “in the cloud” to do sales, customer support, and many
other tasks. Five years ago, it would have taken years for NASA to tag millions of photo-
graphs taken by its telescope, but with the power of its collaborative platforms, the task
can be accomplished in a few months with the help of thousands of human volunteers.



Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers
reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need
to be productive contributors in the future.



This report analyzes key drivers that will reshape the landscape of work and identifies
key work skills needed in the next 10 years. It does not consider what will be the jobs of
the future. Many studies have tried to predict specific job categories and labor require-
ments. Consistently over the years, however, it has been shown that such predictions
are difficult and many of the past predictions have been proven wrong. Rather than
focusing on future jobs, this report looks at future work skills—proficiencies and abilities
required across different jobs and work settings.




                                                                                               1
M ETHODOLO G Y




Over its history, the Institute for the Future (IFTF) has been a leader in advancing foresight methodologies, from
the Delphi technique, a method of aggregating expert opinions to develop plausible foresight, to integrating
ethnographic methods into the discipline of forecasting, and recently to using gaming platforms to crowdsource
foresights. We have used these methodologies with an illustrious roster of organizations—from Fortune 500
companies to governments and foundations—to address issues as diverse as future science and technology, the
future of organizations, and the future of education.


IFTF uses foresight as a starting point for a process we call        Many thanks to each of our workshop participants:
Foresight to Insight to Action, a process that enables people
to take future visions and convert them into meaningful in-           •	 Amanda Dutra, Right Management
sights and actions they can take to be successful in the future.
                                                                      •	 Caroline Molina-Ray,
                                                                         Apollo Research Institute
In writing this report, we drew on IFTF’s foundational
forecasts in areas as diverse as education, technology,               •	 David Pescovitz, IFTF
demographics, work, and health, as well as our annual
                                                                      •	 Devin Fidler, IFTF
Ten-Year Forecast. The Ten-Year Forecast is developed
using IFTF’s signals methodology—an extension of de-                  •	 Humera Malik, Electronic Arts
cades of practice aggregating data, expert opinion, and
                                                                      •	 Jason Tester, IFTF
trends research to understand patterns of change. A signal
is typically a small or local innovation or disruption that           •	 Jerry Michalski, IFTF Affiliate
has the potential to grow in scale and geographic distribu-
                                                                      •	 Jim Spohrer, IBM
tion. A signal can be a new product, a new practice, a new
market strategy, a new policy, or new technology. In short, it        •	 Leslie Miller, Apollo Research Institute
is something that catches our attention at one scale and in
                                                                      •	 Marina Gorbis, IFTF
one locale and points to larger implications for other locales
or even globally. Signals are useful for people who are try-          •	 Martha Russell, Media X at Stanford University
ing to anticipate a highly uncertain future, since they tend
                                                                      •	 Micah Arnold, Apollo Group
to capture emergent phenomenon sooner than traditional
social science methods.                                               •	 Natasha Dalzell-Martinez, University of Phoenix

                                                                      •	 Rachel Maguire, IFTF
We enriched and vetted this research at an expert workshop
held at our headquarters in Palo Alto, where we brought               •	 Sonny Jandial, Procter  Gamble
together experts in a diverse range of disciplines and
                                                                      •	 Steve Milovich, The Walt Disney Company
professional backgrounds, engaging them in brainstorming
exercises to identify key drivers of change and how these             •	 Tracey Wilen-Daugenti,
will shape work skill requirements. Finally, we analyzed and             Apollo Research Institute
filtered all of this data in order to identify the six key drivers
and ten skills areas that will be most relevant to the work-
force of the future.




2
SIX DRIVERS OF CHANGE



We begin every foresight exercise with thinking about drivers—big disruptive shifts that are likely to
reshape the future landscape. Although each driver in itself is important when thinking about the future,
it is a confluence of several drivers working together that produces true disruptions. We chose the six drivers
that emerged from our research as the most important and relevant to future work skills.



                                1                                                                 2
                                                                                              rise of
                            extreme                                                       smart machines
                           longevity                                                       and systems
                         Increasing global                                               Workplace automation
                      lifespans change the                                                  nudges human
                         nature of careers                                                workers out of rote,
                           and learning                                                     repetitive tasks




It is estimated that by 2025, the number of Americans over            We are on the cusp of a major transformation in our
60 will increase by 70%. Over the next decade we will see             relationships with our tools. Over the next decade, new
the challenge of an aging population come to the fore. New            smart machines will enter offices, factories, and homes
perceptions of what it means to age, as well as the emerg-            in numbers we have never seen before. They will become
ing possibilities for realistic, healthy life-extension, will begin   integral to production, teaching, combat, medicine, security,
take hold.                                                            and virtually every domain of our lives. As these machines
                                                                      replace humans in some tasks, and augment them in others,
Individuals will need to rearrange their approach to their            their largest impact may be less obvious: their very presence
careers, family life, and education to accommodate this de-           among us will force us to confront important questions.
mographic shift. Increasingly, people will work long past 65          What are humans uniquely good at? What is our compara-
in order to have adequate resources for retirement. Multiple          tive advantage? And what is our place alongside these
careers will be commonplace and lifelong learning to pre-             machines? We will have to rethink the content of our work
pare for occupational change will see major growth. To take           and our work processes in response.
advantage of this well-experienced and still vital workforce,
organizations will have to rethink the traditional career paths       In some areas, a new generation of automated systems will
in organizations, creating more diversity and flexibility.            replace humans, freeing us up to do the things we are good
                                                                      at and actually enjoy. In other domains, the machines will
Aging individuals will increasingly demand opportunities,             become our collaborators, augmenting our own skills and
products, and medical services to accommodate more                    abilities. Smart machines will also establish new expecta-
healthy and active senior years. As we move toward to a               tions and standards of performance. Of course, some rou-
world of healthier lifestyles and holistic approaches to what         tine jobs will be taken over by machines—this has already
we eat, how we work, and where we live, much of daily                 happened and will continue. But the real power in robotics
life—and the global economy as a whole—will be viewed                 technologies lies in their ability to augment and extend
through the lens of health.                                           our own capabilities. We will be entering into a new kind
                                                                      of partnership with machines that will build on our mutual
                                                                      strengths, resulting in a new level of human-machine col-
                                                                      laboration and codependence.



                                                                                                                                 3
SIX DRIVERS OF CHANGE


                              3                                                                   4
                       computational                                                         new media
                          world                                                               ecology
                      Massive increases in
                                                                                          New communication
                    sensors and processing
                                                                                           tools require new
                     power make the world
                                                                                            media literacies
                       a programmable
                                                                                              beyond text
                            system




The diffusion of sensors, communications, and processing            New multimedia technologies are bringing about a
power into everyday objects and environments will unleash           transformation in the way we communicate. As technologies
an unprecedented torrent of data and the opportunity to see         for video production, digital animation, augmented reality,
patterns and design systems on a scale never before possi-          gaming, and media editing, become ever more sophisticated
ble. Every object, every interaction, everything we come into       and widespread, a new ecosystem will take shape around
contact with will be converted into data. Once we decode            these areas. We are literally developing a new vernacular, a
the world around us and start seeing it through the lens of         new language, for communication.
data, we will increasingly focus on manipulating the data to
achieve desired outcomes. Thus we will usher in an era of           Already, the text-based Internet is transforming to privilege
“everything is programmable”—an era of thinking about the           video, animation, and other more visual communication
world in computational, programmable, designable terms.             media. At the same time, virtual networks are being inte-
                                                                    grated more and more seamlessly into our environment and
The collection of enormous quantities of data will enable           lives, channeling new media into our daily experience. The
modeling of social systems at extreme scales, both micro and        millions of users generating and viewing this multimedia
macro, helping uncover new patterns and relationships that          content from their laptops and mobile devices are exerting
were previously invisible. Agencies will increasingly model         enormous influence on culture.
macro-level phenomena such as global pandemics to stop
their spread across the globe. At a micro level, individuals will   New media is placing new demands on attention and
be able to simulate things such as their route to the office to     cognition. It is enabling new platforms for creating online
avoid traffic congestion based on real-time traffic data. Micro-    identity while at the same time requiring people to engage
and macro-scale models will mesh to create models that are          in activities such as online personal reputation and identity
unprecedented in their complexity and completeness.                 management. It is enabling new ways for groups to come
                                                                    together and collaborate, bringing in new levels of trans-
As a result, whether it is running a business or managing           parency to our work and personal lives. At the same time,
individual health, our work and personal lives will increas-        our sensibility toward reality and truth is likely to be radically
ingly demand abilities to interact with data, see patterns in       altered by the new media ecology. We must learn to
data, make data-based decisions, and use data to design             approach content with more skepticism and the realization
for desired outcomes.                                               that what you see today may be different tomorrow. Not only
                                                                    are we going to have multiple interpretations of recorded
                                                                    events, but with ubiquitous capture and surveillance, events
                                                                    will be seen from multiple angles and perspectives, each
                                                                    possibly telling a different story of individual events.




4
5                                                                   6
                                                                                           globally
                     superstructed
                                                                                       connected world
                     organizations
                                                                                    Increased global intercon-
                     Social technologies
                                                                                    nectivity puts diversity and
                     drive new forms of
                                                                                     adaptability at the center
                    production and value
                                                                                         of organizational
                           creation
                                                                                             operations




New technologies and social media platforms are driving an       At its most basic level, globalization is the long-term trend
unprecedented reorganization of how we produce and cre-          toward greater exchanges and integration across geographic
ate value. Amplified by a new level of collective intelligence   borders. In our highly globally connected and interdepen-
and tapping resources embedded in social connections with        dent world, the United States and Europe no longer hold a
multitudes of others, we can now achieve the kind of scale       mono-poly on job creation, innovation, and political power.
and reach previously attainable only by very large organiza-     Organizations from resource- and infrastructure-constrained
tions. In other words, we can do things outside of traditional   markets in developing countries like India and China are inno-
organizational boundaries.                                       vating at a faster pace than those from developed countries
                                                                 in some areas, such as mobile technologies. In fact, a lack of
To “superstruct” means to create structures that go beyond       legacy infrastructure is combining with rapidly growing mar-
the basic forms and processes with which we are familiar. It     kets to fuel higher rates of growth in developing countries.
means to collaborate and play at extreme scales, from the
micro to the massive. Learning to use new social tools to        For decades, most multinational companies have used their
work, to invent, and to govern at these scales is what the       overseas subsidiaries as sales and technical support chan-
next few decades are all about.                                  nels for the headquarters. In the last ten years, overseas
                                                                 companies, particularly IT ones, outsourced everything from
Our tools and technologies shape the kinds of social,            customer services to software development. The model,
economic, and political organizations we inhabit. Many           however, has stayed the same: innovation and design have
organizations we are familiar with today, including educa-       been the prerogative of RD labs in developed countries.
tional and corporate ones, are products of centuries-old         As markets in China, India, and other developing countries
scientific knowledge and technologies. Today we see this         grow, it is increasingly difficult for the headquarters to de-
organizational landscape being disrupted. In health, organi-     velop products that can suit the needs of a whole different
zations such as Curetogether and PatientsLikeMe are allow-       category of consumers.
ing people to aggregate their personal health information to
allow for clinical trials and emergence of expertise outside     Presence in areas where new competitors are popping up
of traditional labs and doctors’ offices. Science games, from    is critical to survival, but it is not enough. The key is not just
Foldit to GalaxyZoo, are engaging thousands of people to         to employ people in these locales but also to effectively in-
solve problems no single organization had the resources to       tegrate these local employees and local business processes
do before. Open education platforms are increasingly mak-        into the infrastructure of global organizations in order to
ing content available to anyone who wants to learn.              remain competitive.

A new generation of organizational concepts and work skills
is coming not from traditional management/organizational
theories but from fields such as game design, neurosci-
ence, and happiness psychology. These fields will drive the
creation of new training paradigms and tools.



                                                                                                                                  5
F U T U R E W O R K S K I LL S 2020



What do these six disruptive forces mean for the workers of the next
decade? We have identified ten skills that we believe will be critical
for success in the workforce.                                                      extreme
While all six drivers are important in shaping the landscape in which             longevity
each skill emerges, the color-coding and placement here indicate
                                                                             Increasing global lifespans
which drivers have particular relevance to the development of each
                                                                                change the nature of
of the skills.                                                                  careers and learning


KEY
                                                                                                                Trans-
             Drivers—disruptive shifts that                                                                  disciplinarity
             will reshape the workforce
             landscape


             Key skill needed in the
             future workforce
                                                                    Sense-
                                                                    Making



                                                                                                               Social
                                                                                                            Intelligence

                                                                                     Novel
                                                                                  and Adaptive
                                         rise of smart                              Thinking
                                         machines and
                                            systems
                                       Workplace robotics nudge
                                       human workers out of rote,
                                           repetitive tasks                                                new media
                                                                                                            ecology
                                                                                                    New communication tools
                                                                                                    require new media litera-
                                                                                                        cies beyond text




6
superstructed
                                                      organizations
     computational
        world                                       Social technologies drive
                                                    new forms of production
  Massive increase in sensors                          and value creation
  and processing power make
   the world a programmable
            system

                                Design
                                Mindset



                                                          Virtual
                                                       Collaboration

   New
  Media                            Cross
 Literacy                         Cultural
                                Competency
                    Cognitive
                      Load
                   Management




Computational
  Thinking
                                    globally
                                connected world
                                      Increased global
                                   interconnectivity puts
                                 diversity and adaptability
                                       at the center of
                                        organizational
                                          operations




                                                       © 2011 Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                             7
TEN S K I LL S
             F O R THE F U T U R E W O R K F O R C E


        1   S e n s e - maki n g                                            2   S o cia l i n t e l l ig e n c e

Definition: ability to determine the deeper meaning                 Definition: ability to connect to others in a deep and
or significance of what is being expressed                          direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and
                                                                    desired interactions

As smart machines take over rote, routine manufacturing
and services jobs, there will be an increasing demand for the       While we are seeing early prototypes of “social” and
kinds of skills machines are not good at. These are higher-         “emotional” robots in various research labs today, the range
level thinking skills that cannot be codified. We call these        of social skills and emotions that they can display is very
sense-making skills, skills that help us create unique insights     limited. Feeling is just as complicated as sense-making,
critical to decision making.                                        if not more so, and just as the machines we are building
                                                                    are not sense-making machines, the emotional and social
When IBM’s supercomputer, Deep Blue, defeated chess                 robots we are building are not feeling machines.
grandmaster Gary Kasparov, many took this of a sign of its
superior thinking skills. But Deep Blue had won with brute          Socially intelligent employees are able to quickly assess the
number-crunching force (its ability to evaluate millions of poss-   emotions of those around them and adapt their words, tone
ible moves per second), not by applying the kind of human           and gestures accordingly. This has always been a key skill for
intelligence that helps us to live our lives. A computer may be     workers who need to collaborate and build relationships of
able to beat a human in a game of chess or Jeopardy by sheer        trust, but it is even more important as we are called on to coll-
force of its computational abilities, but if you ask it whether     aborate with larger groups of people in different settings. Our
it wants to play pool, it won’t be able to tell whether you are     emotionality and social IQ developed over millennia of living
talking about swimming, financial portfolios, or billiards.         in groups will continue be one of the vital assets that give hu-
                                                                    man workers a comparative advantage over machines.
As computing pioneer Jaron Lanier points out, despite
important advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research it is
still the case that, “if we ask what thinking is, so that we can                                               MIT Media Lab’s
then ask how to foster it, we encounter an astonishing and                                                     Personal Robots
terrifying answer: we don’t know.”1 As we renegotiate the                                                      Group is developing
human/machine division of labor in the next decade, criti-                                                     a robot that can
                                                                                                               generate some
cal thinking or sense-making will emerge as a skill workers
                                                                                                               human-like
increasingly need to capitalize on.                                                                            expressions.

                                                                                                               http://robotic.media.mit.edu

                                         IBM’s latest
                                         supercomputer,
                                         Watson, recently took
                                         on human contestants
                                         at game-show
                                         Jeopardy.

                                         http://www-943.ibm.com/
                                         innovation/us/watson/




8
DRIVERS

                                                                                                                                     • extreme longevity                  • computational world
                                                                                                                                     • rise of smart machines and systems • superstructed organizations
                                                                                                                                     • new media ecology                  • globally connected world



             3         N o v e l  a d ap t iv e t h i n ki n g                                                                                        4   C r o ss - cu lt ura l co mp e t e n cy

Definition: proficiency at thinking and coming up                                                                                              Definition: ability to operate in different cultural settings
with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote
or rule-based
                                                                                                                                               In a truly globally connected world, a worker’s skill set could
                                                                                                                                               see them posted in any number of locations—they need to
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor David                                                                                          be able to operate in whatever environment they find them-
Autor has tracked the polarization of jobs in the United                                                                                       selves. This demands specific content, such as linguistic
States over the last three decades. He finds that job op-                                                                                      skills, but also adaptability to changing circumstances and
portunities are declining in middle-skill white-collar and                                                                                     an ability to sense and respond to new contexts.
blue-collar jobs, largely due to a combination of the automa-
tion of routine work, and global offshoring.2 Conversely, job                                                                                  Cross-cultural competency will become an important skill
opportunities are increasingly concentrated in both high-                                                                                      for all workers, not just those who have to operate in diverse
skill, high-wage professional, technical and management                                                                                        geographical environments. Organizations increasingly see
occupations and in low-skill, low-wage occupations such as                                                                                     diversity as a driver of innovation. Research now tells us
food service and personal care. Jobs at the high-skill end in-                                                                                 that what makes a group truly intelligent and innovative is
volve abstract tasks, and at the low-skill end, manual tasks.                                                                                  the combination of different ages, skills, disciplines, and
                                                                                                                                               working and thinking styles that members bring to the table.
What both of these categories of tasks have in common                                                                                          Scott E. Page, professor and director of the Center of the
is that they require what Autor terms “situational adapt-                                                                                      Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan
ability”—the ability to respond to unique unexpected                                                                                           has demonstrated that groups displaying a range of per-
circumstances of the moment. Tasks as different as writing                                                                                     spectives and skill levels outperform like-minded experts.
a convincing legal argument, or creating a new dish out of                                                                                     He concludes that “progress depends as much on our col-
set ingredients both require novel thinking and adaptability.                                                                                  lective differences as it does on our individual IQ scores.”3
These skills will be at a premium in the next decade, particu-
larly as automation and offshoring continue.                                                                                                   Diversity will therefore become a core competency for
                                                                                                                                               organizations over the next decade. Successful employees
                                                                                                                                               within these diverse teams need to be able to identify and
                                                                                                                                               communicate points of connection (shared goals, priorities,
Change in employment by occupation, 1979-2009
 Percentage point change in employment by occupation, 1979–2009
                                                                                                                                               values) that transcend their differences and enable them to
 Percent                                                                                                                                       build relationships and to work together effectively.
 60
           1979–1989       1999–2007
 50

                                                                                                                                                                            Professor Scott E. Page has
           1989–1999       2007–2009

 40

 30                                                                                                                                                                         shown how diverse groups
 20                                                                                                                                                                         yield superior outcomes when
 10                                                                                                                                                                         compared to homogeneous
  0
                                                                                                                                                                            groups.
 -10

 -20
                                                                                                                                                                            http://press.princeton.edu
 -30
       Managers   Professionals Technicians   Sales   Office and   Production, Operators,      Protective   Food prep,   Personal 
                                                       admin        craft, and and laborers    services      cleaning    care and
                                                                      repair                                             services




Employment growth in the United States is polarizing into high-
skill and low-skill jobs, both of which require capacity for novel
thinking.

David Autor, The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the US Labor Market. Center for
American Progress and The Hamilton Project, April 2010



                                                                                                                                                                                                               9
TEN S K I LL S
              F O R THE F U T U R E W O R K F O R C E


        5   Co mpu tat i o n a l t h i n ki n g                             6   N e w - m e d ia l i t e racy

Definition: ability to translate vast amounts of data into           Definition: ability to critically assess and develop content
abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning             that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for
                                                                     persuasive communication

As the amount of data that we have at our disposal increases
exponentially, many more roles will require computational            The explosion in user-generated media including the videos,
thinking skills in order to make sense of this information. Nov-     blogs, and podcasts that now dominate our social lives, will
ice-friendly programming languages and technologies that             be fully felt in workplaces in the next decade. Communica-
teach the fundamentals of programming virtual and physical           tion tools that break away from the static slide approach of
worlds will enable us to manipulate our environments and en-         programs such as PowerPoint will become commonplace,
hance our interactions. The use of simulations will become a         and with them expectations of worker ability to produce
core expertise as they begin to feature regularly in discourse       content using these new forms will rise dramatically.
and decision-making. HR departments that currently value
applicants who are familiar with basic applications, such as         The next generation of workers will need to become fluent
the Microsoft Office suite, will shift their expectations, seeking   in forms such as video, able to critically “read” and assess
out resumes that include statistical analysis and quantitative       them in the same way that they currently assess a paper or
reasoning skills.                                                    presentation. They will also need to be comfortable creating
                                                                     and presenting their own visual information. Knowledge of
In addition to developing computational thinking skills,             fonts and layouts was once restricted to a small set of print
workers will need to be aware of its limitations. This requires      designers and typesetters, until word processing programs
an understanding that models are only as good as the data            brought this within the reach of everyday office workers.
feeding them—even the best models are approximations                 Similarly, user-friendly production editing tools will make
of reality and not reality itself. And second, workers must          video language—concepts such as frame, depth of field
remain able to act in the absence of data and not become             etc—part of the common vernacular.
paralyzed when lacking an algorithm for every system to
guide decision making.                                               As immersive and visually stimulating presentation of
                                                                     information becomes the norm, workers will need more so-
                                                                     phisticated skills to use these tools to engage and persuade
                                        Scratch is an interactive    their audiences.
                                        learning environment
                                        developed by Lifelong
                                        Kindergarten Group at
                                        the MIT Media Lab. It
                                                                                                            Howard Rheingold’s
                                        teaches young people
                                                                                                            Social Media Class-
                                        the fundamentals of
                                                                                                            room teaches view-
                                        computational method-
                                                                                                            ers the vernacular
                                        ology in a fun, low risk
                                                                                                            of video.
                                        environment.
                                                                                                            http://socialmediaclassroom.
                                        http://scratch.mit.edu                                              com




10
DRIVERS

                                                               • extreme longevity                  • computational world
                                                               • rise of smart machines and systems • superstructed organizations
                                                               • new media ecology                  • globally connected world



       7   Tra n s d iscip l i n ari t y                                        8   D e sig n mi n d s e t

Definition: literacy in and ability to understand concepts               Definition: ability to represent and develop tasks
across multiple disciplines                                              and work processes for desired outcomes


Many of today’s global problems are just too complex to be               The sensors, communication tools and processing power of
solved by one specialized discipline (think global warming or            the computational world will bring with them new opportuni-
overpopulation). These multifaceted problems require trans-              ties to take a design approach to our work. We will be able
disciplinary solutions. While throughout the 20th century,               to plan our environments so that they are conducive to the
ever-greater specialization was encouraged, the next cen-                outcomes that we are most interested in. Discoveries from
tury will see transdisciplinary approaches take center stage.            neuroscience are highlighting how profoundly our physical
We are already seeing this in the emergence of new areas of              environments shape cognition. As Fred Gage, a neurobio-
study, such as nanotechnology, which blends molecular bi-                logist who studies and designs environments for neuro-
ology, biochemistry, protein chemistry, and other specialties.           genesis (the creation of new neurons), argues, “change the
                                                                         environment, change the brain, change the behavior.”5
This shift has major implications for the skill set that
knowledge workers will need to bring to organizations.                   One recent study found that ceiling height has a consistent
According to Howard Rheingold, a prominent forecaster and                impact on the nature of participants’ thinking.6 Participants
author, “transdisciplinarity goes beyond bringing together               in the study were asked to rate their current body state or
researchers from different disciplines to work in multidis-              feeling. Those who were in the room with higher ceilings re-
ciplinary teams. It means educating researchers who can                  sponded more favorably to words associated with freedom,
speak languages of multiple disciplines—biologists who have              such as “unrestricted” or “open”. Those in the lower-ceiling
understanding of mathematics, mathematicians who under-                  room tended to describe themselves with words associated
stand biology.”4                                                         with confinement. This impact on mood was directly trans-
                                                                         ferred to mental processes; those in the high-ceiling group
The ideal worker of the next decade is “T-shaped”—they                   were more effective at relational thinking, creating connec-
bring deep understanding of at least one field, but have the             tions and the free recall of facts.
capacity to converse in the language of a broader range of
disciplines. This requires a sense of curiosity and a willing-           Workers of the future will need to become adept at rec-
ness to go on learning far beyond the years of formal edu-               ognizing the kind of thinking that different tasks require,
cation. As extended lifespans promote multiple careers and               and making adjustments to their work environments that
exposure to more industries and disciplines, it will be particu-         enhance their ability to accomplish these tasks.
larly important for workers to develop this T-shaped quality.
                                                                                                     Ceiling height can encourage
                                  The California Institute for                                       open, expansive thinking.
                                  Telecommunications and
                                  Information Technology                                             http://scienceblogs.com/mixingmemo-
                                                                                                     ry/2007/05/does_ceiling_height_affect_the.php
                                  (Calit2) at the University
                                  of California’s San Diego
                                  campus brings together
                                  researchers from STEM fields
                                  of science and engineering
                                  with art, design, and myriad
                                  other disciplines to tackle
                                  large scale societal problems.

                                  http://socialmovement.org




                                                                                                                                                11
TEN S K I LL S
                 F O R THE F U T U R E W O R K F O R C E


          9    Co g n i t iv e lo a d ma n ag e m e n t                  10    V ir t ua l co l l a b o rat i o n

Definition: ability to discriminate and filter information for   Definition: ability to work productively, drive
importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive          engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member
functioning using a variety of tools and techniques              of a virtual team.


A world rich in information streams in multiple formats and      Connective technologies make it easier than ever to work, share
from multiple devices brings the issue of cognitive overload     ideas and be productive despite physical separation. But the vir-
to the fore. Organizations and workers will only be able to      tual work environment also demands a new set of competencies.
turn the massive influx of data into an advantage if they can
learn to effectively filter and focus on what is important.      As a leader of a virtual team, individuals need to develop
                                                                 strategies for engaging and motivating a dispersed group.
The next generation of workers will have to develop their own    We are learning that techniques borrowed from gaming are
techniques for tackling the problem of cognitive overload. For   extremely effective in engaging large virtual communities.
example, the practice of social filtering—ranking, tagging,      Ensuring that collaborative platforms include typical gaming
or adding other metadata to content helps higher-quality or      features such as immediate feedback, clear objectives and a
more relevant information to rise above the “noise.”             staged series of challenges can significantly drive participa-
                                                                 tion and motivation.
Workers will also need to become adept at utilizing new
tools to help them deal with the information onslaught.          Members of virtual teams also need to become adept at
Researchers at Tufts University have wired stockbro-             finding environments that promote productivity and well-
kers—who are constantly monitoring streams of financial          being. A community that offers “ambient sociability” can
data, and need to recognize major changes without be-            help overcome isolation that comes from lack of access to a
ing overwhelmed by detail. The stockbrokers were asked           central, social workplace. This could be a physical cowork-
to watch a stream of financial data and write an involved        ing space, but it could also be virtual. Researchers at
email message to a coll-eague. As they got more involved         Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab exploring the
in composing the email, the fNIRS (functional near-infrared      real-world social benefits of inhabiting virtual worlds such
spectroscopy, which measures blood oxygen levels in the          as Second Life report that the collective experience of a
brain) system detected this, and simplified the presentation     virtual environment, especially one with 3D avatars, provides
of data accordingly.7                                            significant social-emotional benefits. Players experience
                                                                 the others as co-present and available, but they are able to
                                                                 concentrate on their own in-world work.

                                                                 Online streams created by micro blogging and social
                                                                 networking sites can serve as virtual water coolers, providing
                                                                 a sense of camaraderie and enabling employees to demon-
                                                                 strate presence. For example, Yammer is a Twitter-like micro
                                                                 blogging service, focused on business—only individuals with
     Adaptive interfaces, developed by researchers at            the same corporate domain in their email address can access
     Tufts, can reduce the level of detail in the market         the company network.
     information stockbrokers see when sensors detect
     that they are experiencing high mental workload.                                             Yammer asks employ-
                                                                                                  ees to provide updates
     http://www.cs.tufts.edu
                                                                                                  on the question, “What
                                                                                                  are you working on?”

                                                                                                  www.yammer.com


12
I M P L I C AT I ON S



The results of this research have implications for individuals, educational institutions, business, and government.

To be successful in the next decade, individuals will need to demonstrate foresight in navigating a rapidly shifting landscape
of organizational forms and skill requirements. They will increasingly be called upon to continually reassess the skills they need,
and quickly put together the right resources to develop and update these. Workers in the future will need to be adaptable
lifelong learners.

Educational institutions at the primary, secondary, and                   Businesses must also be alert to the changing environment
post-secondary levels, are largely the products of technology             and adapt their workforce planning and development strategies
infrastructure and social circumstances of the past. The                  to ensure alignment with future skill requirements. Strategic
landscape has changed and educational institutions should                 human resource professionals might reconsider traditional
consider how to adapt quickly in response. Some directions of             methods for identifying critical skills, as well as selecting and
change might include:                                                     developing talent. Considering the disruptions likely to reshape
                                                                          the future will enhance businesses’ ability to ensure organiza-
 »» Placing additional emphasis on developing skills such as              tional talent has and continuously renews the skills necessary
    critical thinking, insight, and analysis capabilities                 for the sustainability of business goals. A workforce strategy
                                                                          for sustaining business goals should be one of the most critical
 »» Integrating new-media literacy into education programs                outcomes of human resource professionals and should involve
                                                                          collaborating with universities to address lifelong learning and
 »» Including experiential learning that gives prominence                 skill requirements.
    to soft skills—such as the ability to collaborate, work in
    groups, read social cues, and respond adaptively                      Governmental policymakers will need to respond to the
                                                                          changing landscape by taking a leadership role and making
 »» Broadening the learning constituency beyond teens and                 education a national priority. If education is not prioritized,
    young adults through to adulthood                                     we risk compromising our ability to prepare our people for a
                                                                          healthy and sustainable future. For Americans to be prepared
 »» Integrating interdisciplinary training that allows students to        and for our businesses to be competitive, policy makers should
    develop skills and knowledge in a range of subjects                   consider the full range of skills citizens will require, as well as
                                                                          the importance of lifelong learning and constant skill renewal.


                                                 Trans-
                                              disciplinarity                                         Design
                                                                                                     Mindset



                                                                                                                         Virtual
                                                                                                                      Collaboration

          Sense-
                                                                    New 
          Making                                                                                        Cross
                                                                   Media
                                                                  Literacy                             Cultural
                                                                                                     Competency
                                                Social                              Cognitive
                                             Intelligence                             Load
                                                                                   Management
                             Novel
                          and Adaptive
                            Thinking
                                                                 Computational
                                                                   Thinking 




                                          new media
                                           ecology                                                                                        13
ENDNOTE S



     1
      Jaron Lanier, Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind? New York Times. September 16, 2010.
     Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/magazine/19fob-essay-t.html?pagewanted=2.

     2
      David Autor, The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the US Labor Market. Center for American Progress and
     The Hamilton Project, April 2010.

     3
      Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies.
     Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

     4
         Quoted in Science  Technology Perspectives, Institute for the Future, SR 967.

     5
      Quoted in John P. Eberhard, and Brenda Patoine, Architecture With the Brain in Mind. The Dana Foundation weblog, 2004.
     Available at: http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=1254.

     6
      Joan Meyers-Levy, Rui Zhu, The influence of ceiling height: The effect of priming on the type of processing people use.
     Journal of Consumer Research 2007: 34.

     7
      Audrey Girouard, Erin Treacy Solovey et al., From Brain Signals to Adaptive Interfaces: using fNIRS in HCI. Brain Computer
     Interfacts: Human-Computer Interaction Series, 2010, 3: 221-237.




14
Future work skills 2020 ful research report final1

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Future work skills 2020 ful research report final1

  • 1. Future Work Skills 2020 Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute 124 University Avenue, 2nd Floor, Palo Alto, CA 94301 650.854.6322 www.iftf.org
  • 2. about the … i n s t i t u t e f o r t h e fu t ur e The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit strategic research group with more than 40 years of forecasting experience. The core of our work is identifying emerging trends and discontinuities that will transform global society and the global marketplace. We provide our members with insights into business strategy, design process, innova- tion, and social dilemmas. Our research spans a broad territory of deeply transformative trends, from health and health care to technology, the workplace, and human identity. The Institute for the Future is located in Palo Alto, California. A p o l lo R e s e arc h I n s t i t u t e Apollo Research Institute investigates the value of education for the current and future workforce. Through academic and industry partner- ships, Apollo Research Institute makes research-based recommendations to help leaders ensure today’s workforce is employable tomorrow. Visit www.apolloresearchinstitute.org. Apollo Research Institute sponsored this piece of research to increase understanding of the skills workers will need over the next decade in a technologically advanced and changing world. Credits: Author: Anna Davies, Devin Fidler, Marina Gorbis Creative Direction: Jean Hagan Production Editor: Lisa Mumbach Design and Production: Karin Lubeck, Jody Radzik ©2011 Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited without written permission. SR-1382A
  • 3. Introduction 1 Methodology 2 Six Drivers of Change 3 Future Work Skills Map 6 Ten Skills for the Future Workforce 8 Implications 13
  • 4.
  • 5. i n t r o d uc t i o n In the 1990s, IBM’s Deep Blue beat grandmaster Gary Kasparov in chess; today IBM’s Watson supercomputer is beating contestants on Jeopardy. A decade ago, workers worried about jobs being outsourced overseas; today companies such as ODesk and LiveOps can assemble teams “in the cloud” to do sales, customer support, and many other tasks. Five years ago, it would have taken years for NASA to tag millions of photo- graphs taken by its telescope, but with the power of its collaborative platforms, the task can be accomplished in a few months with the help of thousands of human volunteers. Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future. This report analyzes key drivers that will reshape the landscape of work and identifies key work skills needed in the next 10 years. It does not consider what will be the jobs of the future. Many studies have tried to predict specific job categories and labor require- ments. Consistently over the years, however, it has been shown that such predictions are difficult and many of the past predictions have been proven wrong. Rather than focusing on future jobs, this report looks at future work skills—proficiencies and abilities required across different jobs and work settings. 1
  • 6. M ETHODOLO G Y Over its history, the Institute for the Future (IFTF) has been a leader in advancing foresight methodologies, from the Delphi technique, a method of aggregating expert opinions to develop plausible foresight, to integrating ethnographic methods into the discipline of forecasting, and recently to using gaming platforms to crowdsource foresights. We have used these methodologies with an illustrious roster of organizations—from Fortune 500 companies to governments and foundations—to address issues as diverse as future science and technology, the future of organizations, and the future of education. IFTF uses foresight as a starting point for a process we call Many thanks to each of our workshop participants: Foresight to Insight to Action, a process that enables people to take future visions and convert them into meaningful in- • Amanda Dutra, Right Management sights and actions they can take to be successful in the future. • Caroline Molina-Ray, Apollo Research Institute In writing this report, we drew on IFTF’s foundational forecasts in areas as diverse as education, technology, • David Pescovitz, IFTF demographics, work, and health, as well as our annual • Devin Fidler, IFTF Ten-Year Forecast. The Ten-Year Forecast is developed using IFTF’s signals methodology—an extension of de- • Humera Malik, Electronic Arts cades of practice aggregating data, expert opinion, and • Jason Tester, IFTF trends research to understand patterns of change. A signal is typically a small or local innovation or disruption that • Jerry Michalski, IFTF Affiliate has the potential to grow in scale and geographic distribu- • Jim Spohrer, IBM tion. A signal can be a new product, a new practice, a new market strategy, a new policy, or new technology. In short, it • Leslie Miller, Apollo Research Institute is something that catches our attention at one scale and in • Marina Gorbis, IFTF one locale and points to larger implications for other locales or even globally. Signals are useful for people who are try- • Martha Russell, Media X at Stanford University ing to anticipate a highly uncertain future, since they tend • Micah Arnold, Apollo Group to capture emergent phenomenon sooner than traditional social science methods. • Natasha Dalzell-Martinez, University of Phoenix • Rachel Maguire, IFTF We enriched and vetted this research at an expert workshop held at our headquarters in Palo Alto, where we brought • Sonny Jandial, Procter Gamble together experts in a diverse range of disciplines and • Steve Milovich, The Walt Disney Company professional backgrounds, engaging them in brainstorming exercises to identify key drivers of change and how these • Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, will shape work skill requirements. Finally, we analyzed and Apollo Research Institute filtered all of this data in order to identify the six key drivers and ten skills areas that will be most relevant to the work- force of the future. 2
  • 7. SIX DRIVERS OF CHANGE We begin every foresight exercise with thinking about drivers—big disruptive shifts that are likely to reshape the future landscape. Although each driver in itself is important when thinking about the future, it is a confluence of several drivers working together that produces true disruptions. We chose the six drivers that emerged from our research as the most important and relevant to future work skills. 1 2 rise of extreme smart machines longevity and systems Increasing global Workplace automation lifespans change the nudges human nature of careers workers out of rote, and learning repetitive tasks It is estimated that by 2025, the number of Americans over We are on the cusp of a major transformation in our 60 will increase by 70%. Over the next decade we will see relationships with our tools. Over the next decade, new the challenge of an aging population come to the fore. New smart machines will enter offices, factories, and homes perceptions of what it means to age, as well as the emerg- in numbers we have never seen before. They will become ing possibilities for realistic, healthy life-extension, will begin integral to production, teaching, combat, medicine, security, take hold. and virtually every domain of our lives. As these machines replace humans in some tasks, and augment them in others, Individuals will need to rearrange their approach to their their largest impact may be less obvious: their very presence careers, family life, and education to accommodate this de- among us will force us to confront important questions. mographic shift. Increasingly, people will work long past 65 What are humans uniquely good at? What is our compara- in order to have adequate resources for retirement. Multiple tive advantage? And what is our place alongside these careers will be commonplace and lifelong learning to pre- machines? We will have to rethink the content of our work pare for occupational change will see major growth. To take and our work processes in response. advantage of this well-experienced and still vital workforce, organizations will have to rethink the traditional career paths In some areas, a new generation of automated systems will in organizations, creating more diversity and flexibility. replace humans, freeing us up to do the things we are good at and actually enjoy. In other domains, the machines will Aging individuals will increasingly demand opportunities, become our collaborators, augmenting our own skills and products, and medical services to accommodate more abilities. Smart machines will also establish new expecta- healthy and active senior years. As we move toward to a tions and standards of performance. Of course, some rou- world of healthier lifestyles and holistic approaches to what tine jobs will be taken over by machines—this has already we eat, how we work, and where we live, much of daily happened and will continue. But the real power in robotics life—and the global economy as a whole—will be viewed technologies lies in their ability to augment and extend through the lens of health. our own capabilities. We will be entering into a new kind of partnership with machines that will build on our mutual strengths, resulting in a new level of human-machine col- laboration and codependence. 3
  • 8. SIX DRIVERS OF CHANGE 3 4 computational new media world ecology Massive increases in New communication sensors and processing tools require new power make the world media literacies a programmable beyond text system The diffusion of sensors, communications, and processing New multimedia technologies are bringing about a power into everyday objects and environments will unleash transformation in the way we communicate. As technologies an unprecedented torrent of data and the opportunity to see for video production, digital animation, augmented reality, patterns and design systems on a scale never before possi- gaming, and media editing, become ever more sophisticated ble. Every object, every interaction, everything we come into and widespread, a new ecosystem will take shape around contact with will be converted into data. Once we decode these areas. We are literally developing a new vernacular, a the world around us and start seeing it through the lens of new language, for communication. data, we will increasingly focus on manipulating the data to achieve desired outcomes. Thus we will usher in an era of Already, the text-based Internet is transforming to privilege “everything is programmable”—an era of thinking about the video, animation, and other more visual communication world in computational, programmable, designable terms. media. At the same time, virtual networks are being inte- grated more and more seamlessly into our environment and The collection of enormous quantities of data will enable lives, channeling new media into our daily experience. The modeling of social systems at extreme scales, both micro and millions of users generating and viewing this multimedia macro, helping uncover new patterns and relationships that content from their laptops and mobile devices are exerting were previously invisible. Agencies will increasingly model enormous influence on culture. macro-level phenomena such as global pandemics to stop their spread across the globe. At a micro level, individuals will New media is placing new demands on attention and be able to simulate things such as their route to the office to cognition. It is enabling new platforms for creating online avoid traffic congestion based on real-time traffic data. Micro- identity while at the same time requiring people to engage and macro-scale models will mesh to create models that are in activities such as online personal reputation and identity unprecedented in their complexity and completeness. management. It is enabling new ways for groups to come together and collaborate, bringing in new levels of trans- As a result, whether it is running a business or managing parency to our work and personal lives. At the same time, individual health, our work and personal lives will increas- our sensibility toward reality and truth is likely to be radically ingly demand abilities to interact with data, see patterns in altered by the new media ecology. We must learn to data, make data-based decisions, and use data to design approach content with more skepticism and the realization for desired outcomes. that what you see today may be different tomorrow. Not only are we going to have multiple interpretations of recorded events, but with ubiquitous capture and surveillance, events will be seen from multiple angles and perspectives, each possibly telling a different story of individual events. 4
  • 9. 5 6 globally superstructed connected world organizations Increased global intercon- Social technologies nectivity puts diversity and drive new forms of adaptability at the center production and value of organizational creation operations New technologies and social media platforms are driving an At its most basic level, globalization is the long-term trend unprecedented reorganization of how we produce and cre- toward greater exchanges and integration across geographic ate value. Amplified by a new level of collective intelligence borders. In our highly globally connected and interdepen- and tapping resources embedded in social connections with dent world, the United States and Europe no longer hold a multitudes of others, we can now achieve the kind of scale mono-poly on job creation, innovation, and political power. and reach previously attainable only by very large organiza- Organizations from resource- and infrastructure-constrained tions. In other words, we can do things outside of traditional markets in developing countries like India and China are inno- organizational boundaries. vating at a faster pace than those from developed countries in some areas, such as mobile technologies. In fact, a lack of To “superstruct” means to create structures that go beyond legacy infrastructure is combining with rapidly growing mar- the basic forms and processes with which we are familiar. It kets to fuel higher rates of growth in developing countries. means to collaborate and play at extreme scales, from the micro to the massive. Learning to use new social tools to For decades, most multinational companies have used their work, to invent, and to govern at these scales is what the overseas subsidiaries as sales and technical support chan- next few decades are all about. nels for the headquarters. In the last ten years, overseas companies, particularly IT ones, outsourced everything from Our tools and technologies shape the kinds of social, customer services to software development. The model, economic, and political organizations we inhabit. Many however, has stayed the same: innovation and design have organizations we are familiar with today, including educa- been the prerogative of RD labs in developed countries. tional and corporate ones, are products of centuries-old As markets in China, India, and other developing countries scientific knowledge and technologies. Today we see this grow, it is increasingly difficult for the headquarters to de- organizational landscape being disrupted. In health, organi- velop products that can suit the needs of a whole different zations such as Curetogether and PatientsLikeMe are allow- category of consumers. ing people to aggregate their personal health information to allow for clinical trials and emergence of expertise outside Presence in areas where new competitors are popping up of traditional labs and doctors’ offices. Science games, from is critical to survival, but it is not enough. The key is not just Foldit to GalaxyZoo, are engaging thousands of people to to employ people in these locales but also to effectively in- solve problems no single organization had the resources to tegrate these local employees and local business processes do before. Open education platforms are increasingly mak- into the infrastructure of global organizations in order to ing content available to anyone who wants to learn. remain competitive. A new generation of organizational concepts and work skills is coming not from traditional management/organizational theories but from fields such as game design, neurosci- ence, and happiness psychology. These fields will drive the creation of new training paradigms and tools. 5
  • 10. F U T U R E W O R K S K I LL S 2020 What do these six disruptive forces mean for the workers of the next decade? We have identified ten skills that we believe will be critical for success in the workforce. extreme While all six drivers are important in shaping the landscape in which longevity each skill emerges, the color-coding and placement here indicate Increasing global lifespans which drivers have particular relevance to the development of each change the nature of of the skills. careers and learning KEY Trans- Drivers—disruptive shifts that disciplinarity will reshape the workforce landscape Key skill needed in the future workforce Sense- Making Social Intelligence Novel and Adaptive rise of smart Thinking machines and systems Workplace robotics nudge human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks new media ecology New communication tools require new media litera- cies beyond text 6
  • 11. superstructed organizations computational world Social technologies drive new forms of production Massive increase in sensors and value creation and processing power make the world a programmable system Design Mindset Virtual Collaboration New Media Cross Literacy Cultural Competency Cognitive Load Management Computational Thinking globally connected world Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations © 2011 Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute. All rights reserved. 7
  • 12. TEN S K I LL S F O R THE F U T U R E W O R K F O R C E 1 S e n s e - maki n g 2 S o cia l i n t e l l ig e n c e Definition: ability to determine the deeper meaning Definition: ability to connect to others in a deep and or significance of what is being expressed direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions As smart machines take over rote, routine manufacturing and services jobs, there will be an increasing demand for the While we are seeing early prototypes of “social” and kinds of skills machines are not good at. These are higher- “emotional” robots in various research labs today, the range level thinking skills that cannot be codified. We call these of social skills and emotions that they can display is very sense-making skills, skills that help us create unique insights limited. Feeling is just as complicated as sense-making, critical to decision making. if not more so, and just as the machines we are building are not sense-making machines, the emotional and social When IBM’s supercomputer, Deep Blue, defeated chess robots we are building are not feeling machines. grandmaster Gary Kasparov, many took this of a sign of its superior thinking skills. But Deep Blue had won with brute Socially intelligent employees are able to quickly assess the number-crunching force (its ability to evaluate millions of poss- emotions of those around them and adapt their words, tone ible moves per second), not by applying the kind of human and gestures accordingly. This has always been a key skill for intelligence that helps us to live our lives. A computer may be workers who need to collaborate and build relationships of able to beat a human in a game of chess or Jeopardy by sheer trust, but it is even more important as we are called on to coll- force of its computational abilities, but if you ask it whether aborate with larger groups of people in different settings. Our it wants to play pool, it won’t be able to tell whether you are emotionality and social IQ developed over millennia of living talking about swimming, financial portfolios, or billiards. in groups will continue be one of the vital assets that give hu- man workers a comparative advantage over machines. As computing pioneer Jaron Lanier points out, despite important advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research it is still the case that, “if we ask what thinking is, so that we can MIT Media Lab’s then ask how to foster it, we encounter an astonishing and Personal Robots terrifying answer: we don’t know.”1 As we renegotiate the Group is developing human/machine division of labor in the next decade, criti- a robot that can generate some cal thinking or sense-making will emerge as a skill workers human-like increasingly need to capitalize on. expressions. http://robotic.media.mit.edu IBM’s latest supercomputer, Watson, recently took on human contestants at game-show Jeopardy. http://www-943.ibm.com/ innovation/us/watson/ 8
  • 13. DRIVERS • extreme longevity • computational world • rise of smart machines and systems • superstructed organizations • new media ecology • globally connected world 3 N o v e l a d ap t iv e t h i n ki n g 4 C r o ss - cu lt ura l co mp e t e n cy Definition: proficiency at thinking and coming up Definition: ability to operate in different cultural settings with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based In a truly globally connected world, a worker’s skill set could see them posted in any number of locations—they need to Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor David be able to operate in whatever environment they find them- Autor has tracked the polarization of jobs in the United selves. This demands specific content, such as linguistic States over the last three decades. He finds that job op- skills, but also adaptability to changing circumstances and portunities are declining in middle-skill white-collar and an ability to sense and respond to new contexts. blue-collar jobs, largely due to a combination of the automa- tion of routine work, and global offshoring.2 Conversely, job Cross-cultural competency will become an important skill opportunities are increasingly concentrated in both high- for all workers, not just those who have to operate in diverse skill, high-wage professional, technical and management geographical environments. Organizations increasingly see occupations and in low-skill, low-wage occupations such as diversity as a driver of innovation. Research now tells us food service and personal care. Jobs at the high-skill end in- that what makes a group truly intelligent and innovative is volve abstract tasks, and at the low-skill end, manual tasks. the combination of different ages, skills, disciplines, and working and thinking styles that members bring to the table. What both of these categories of tasks have in common Scott E. Page, professor and director of the Center of the is that they require what Autor terms “situational adapt- Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan ability”—the ability to respond to unique unexpected has demonstrated that groups displaying a range of per- circumstances of the moment. Tasks as different as writing spectives and skill levels outperform like-minded experts. a convincing legal argument, or creating a new dish out of He concludes that “progress depends as much on our col- set ingredients both require novel thinking and adaptability. lective differences as it does on our individual IQ scores.”3 These skills will be at a premium in the next decade, particu- larly as automation and offshoring continue. Diversity will therefore become a core competency for organizations over the next decade. Successful employees within these diverse teams need to be able to identify and communicate points of connection (shared goals, priorities, Change in employment by occupation, 1979-2009 Percentage point change in employment by occupation, 1979–2009 values) that transcend their differences and enable them to Percent build relationships and to work together effectively. 60 1979–1989 1999–2007 50 Professor Scott E. Page has 1989–1999 2007–2009 40 30 shown how diverse groups 20 yield superior outcomes when 10 compared to homogeneous 0 groups. -10 -20 http://press.princeton.edu -30 Managers Professionals Technicians Sales Office and Production, Operators, Protective Food prep, Personal  admin  craft, and and laborers  services  cleaning  care and repair  services Employment growth in the United States is polarizing into high- skill and low-skill jobs, both of which require capacity for novel thinking. David Autor, The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the US Labor Market. Center for American Progress and The Hamilton Project, April 2010 9
  • 14. TEN S K I LL S F O R THE F U T U R E W O R K F O R C E 5 Co mpu tat i o n a l t h i n ki n g 6 N e w - m e d ia l i t e racy Definition: ability to translate vast amounts of data into Definition: ability to critically assess and develop content abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication As the amount of data that we have at our disposal increases exponentially, many more roles will require computational The explosion in user-generated media including the videos, thinking skills in order to make sense of this information. Nov- blogs, and podcasts that now dominate our social lives, will ice-friendly programming languages and technologies that be fully felt in workplaces in the next decade. Communica- teach the fundamentals of programming virtual and physical tion tools that break away from the static slide approach of worlds will enable us to manipulate our environments and en- programs such as PowerPoint will become commonplace, hance our interactions. The use of simulations will become a and with them expectations of worker ability to produce core expertise as they begin to feature regularly in discourse content using these new forms will rise dramatically. and decision-making. HR departments that currently value applicants who are familiar with basic applications, such as The next generation of workers will need to become fluent the Microsoft Office suite, will shift their expectations, seeking in forms such as video, able to critically “read” and assess out resumes that include statistical analysis and quantitative them in the same way that they currently assess a paper or reasoning skills. presentation. They will also need to be comfortable creating and presenting their own visual information. Knowledge of In addition to developing computational thinking skills, fonts and layouts was once restricted to a small set of print workers will need to be aware of its limitations. This requires designers and typesetters, until word processing programs an understanding that models are only as good as the data brought this within the reach of everyday office workers. feeding them—even the best models are approximations Similarly, user-friendly production editing tools will make of reality and not reality itself. And second, workers must video language—concepts such as frame, depth of field remain able to act in the absence of data and not become etc—part of the common vernacular. paralyzed when lacking an algorithm for every system to guide decision making. As immersive and visually stimulating presentation of information becomes the norm, workers will need more so- phisticated skills to use these tools to engage and persuade Scratch is an interactive their audiences. learning environment developed by Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It Howard Rheingold’s teaches young people Social Media Class- the fundamentals of room teaches view- computational method- ers the vernacular ology in a fun, low risk of video. environment. http://socialmediaclassroom. http://scratch.mit.edu com 10
  • 15. DRIVERS • extreme longevity • computational world • rise of smart machines and systems • superstructed organizations • new media ecology • globally connected world 7 Tra n s d iscip l i n ari t y 8 D e sig n mi n d s e t Definition: literacy in and ability to understand concepts Definition: ability to represent and develop tasks across multiple disciplines and work processes for desired outcomes Many of today’s global problems are just too complex to be The sensors, communication tools and processing power of solved by one specialized discipline (think global warming or the computational world will bring with them new opportuni- overpopulation). These multifaceted problems require trans- ties to take a design approach to our work. We will be able disciplinary solutions. While throughout the 20th century, to plan our environments so that they are conducive to the ever-greater specialization was encouraged, the next cen- outcomes that we are most interested in. Discoveries from tury will see transdisciplinary approaches take center stage. neuroscience are highlighting how profoundly our physical We are already seeing this in the emergence of new areas of environments shape cognition. As Fred Gage, a neurobio- study, such as nanotechnology, which blends molecular bi- logist who studies and designs environments for neuro- ology, biochemistry, protein chemistry, and other specialties. genesis (the creation of new neurons), argues, “change the environment, change the brain, change the behavior.”5 This shift has major implications for the skill set that knowledge workers will need to bring to organizations. One recent study found that ceiling height has a consistent According to Howard Rheingold, a prominent forecaster and impact on the nature of participants’ thinking.6 Participants author, “transdisciplinarity goes beyond bringing together in the study were asked to rate their current body state or researchers from different disciplines to work in multidis- feeling. Those who were in the room with higher ceilings re- ciplinary teams. It means educating researchers who can sponded more favorably to words associated with freedom, speak languages of multiple disciplines—biologists who have such as “unrestricted” or “open”. Those in the lower-ceiling understanding of mathematics, mathematicians who under- room tended to describe themselves with words associated stand biology.”4 with confinement. This impact on mood was directly trans- ferred to mental processes; those in the high-ceiling group The ideal worker of the next decade is “T-shaped”—they were more effective at relational thinking, creating connec- bring deep understanding of at least one field, but have the tions and the free recall of facts. capacity to converse in the language of a broader range of disciplines. This requires a sense of curiosity and a willing- Workers of the future will need to become adept at rec- ness to go on learning far beyond the years of formal edu- ognizing the kind of thinking that different tasks require, cation. As extended lifespans promote multiple careers and and making adjustments to their work environments that exposure to more industries and disciplines, it will be particu- enhance their ability to accomplish these tasks. larly important for workers to develop this T-shaped quality. Ceiling height can encourage The California Institute for open, expansive thinking. Telecommunications and Information Technology http://scienceblogs.com/mixingmemo- ry/2007/05/does_ceiling_height_affect_the.php (Calit2) at the University of California’s San Diego campus brings together researchers from STEM fields of science and engineering with art, design, and myriad other disciplines to tackle large scale societal problems. http://socialmovement.org 11
  • 16. TEN S K I LL S F O R THE F U T U R E W O R K F O R C E 9 Co g n i t iv e lo a d ma n ag e m e n t 10 V ir t ua l co l l a b o rat i o n Definition: ability to discriminate and filter information for Definition: ability to work productively, drive importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member functioning using a variety of tools and techniques of a virtual team. A world rich in information streams in multiple formats and Connective technologies make it easier than ever to work, share from multiple devices brings the issue of cognitive overload ideas and be productive despite physical separation. But the vir- to the fore. Organizations and workers will only be able to tual work environment also demands a new set of competencies. turn the massive influx of data into an advantage if they can learn to effectively filter and focus on what is important. As a leader of a virtual team, individuals need to develop strategies for engaging and motivating a dispersed group. The next generation of workers will have to develop their own We are learning that techniques borrowed from gaming are techniques for tackling the problem of cognitive overload. For extremely effective in engaging large virtual communities. example, the practice of social filtering—ranking, tagging, Ensuring that collaborative platforms include typical gaming or adding other metadata to content helps higher-quality or features such as immediate feedback, clear objectives and a more relevant information to rise above the “noise.” staged series of challenges can significantly drive participa- tion and motivation. Workers will also need to become adept at utilizing new tools to help them deal with the information onslaught. Members of virtual teams also need to become adept at Researchers at Tufts University have wired stockbro- finding environments that promote productivity and well- kers—who are constantly monitoring streams of financial being. A community that offers “ambient sociability” can data, and need to recognize major changes without be- help overcome isolation that comes from lack of access to a ing overwhelmed by detail. The stockbrokers were asked central, social workplace. This could be a physical cowork- to watch a stream of financial data and write an involved ing space, but it could also be virtual. Researchers at email message to a coll-eague. As they got more involved Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab exploring the in composing the email, the fNIRS (functional near-infrared real-world social benefits of inhabiting virtual worlds such spectroscopy, which measures blood oxygen levels in the as Second Life report that the collective experience of a brain) system detected this, and simplified the presentation virtual environment, especially one with 3D avatars, provides of data accordingly.7 significant social-emotional benefits. Players experience the others as co-present and available, but they are able to concentrate on their own in-world work. Online streams created by micro blogging and social networking sites can serve as virtual water coolers, providing a sense of camaraderie and enabling employees to demon- strate presence. For example, Yammer is a Twitter-like micro blogging service, focused on business—only individuals with Adaptive interfaces, developed by researchers at the same corporate domain in their email address can access Tufts, can reduce the level of detail in the market the company network. information stockbrokers see when sensors detect that they are experiencing high mental workload. Yammer asks employ- ees to provide updates http://www.cs.tufts.edu on the question, “What are you working on?” www.yammer.com 12
  • 17. I M P L I C AT I ON S The results of this research have implications for individuals, educational institutions, business, and government. To be successful in the next decade, individuals will need to demonstrate foresight in navigating a rapidly shifting landscape of organizational forms and skill requirements. They will increasingly be called upon to continually reassess the skills they need, and quickly put together the right resources to develop and update these. Workers in the future will need to be adaptable lifelong learners. Educational institutions at the primary, secondary, and Businesses must also be alert to the changing environment post-secondary levels, are largely the products of technology and adapt their workforce planning and development strategies infrastructure and social circumstances of the past. The to ensure alignment with future skill requirements. Strategic landscape has changed and educational institutions should human resource professionals might reconsider traditional consider how to adapt quickly in response. Some directions of methods for identifying critical skills, as well as selecting and change might include: developing talent. Considering the disruptions likely to reshape the future will enhance businesses’ ability to ensure organiza- »» Placing additional emphasis on developing skills such as tional talent has and continuously renews the skills necessary critical thinking, insight, and analysis capabilities for the sustainability of business goals. A workforce strategy for sustaining business goals should be one of the most critical »» Integrating new-media literacy into education programs outcomes of human resource professionals and should involve collaborating with universities to address lifelong learning and »» Including experiential learning that gives prominence skill requirements. to soft skills—such as the ability to collaborate, work in groups, read social cues, and respond adaptively Governmental policymakers will need to respond to the changing landscape by taking a leadership role and making »» Broadening the learning constituency beyond teens and education a national priority. If education is not prioritized, young adults through to adulthood we risk compromising our ability to prepare our people for a healthy and sustainable future. For Americans to be prepared »» Integrating interdisciplinary training that allows students to and for our businesses to be competitive, policy makers should develop skills and knowledge in a range of subjects consider the full range of skills citizens will require, as well as the importance of lifelong learning and constant skill renewal. Trans- disciplinarity Design Mindset Virtual Collaboration Sense- New  Making  Cross Media Literacy  Cultural Competency Social Cognitive Intelligence  Load Management Novel and Adaptive Thinking Computational Thinking  new media ecology 13
  • 18. ENDNOTE S 1 Jaron Lanier, Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind? New York Times. September 16, 2010. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/magazine/19fob-essay-t.html?pagewanted=2. 2 David Autor, The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the US Labor Market. Center for American Progress and The Hamilton Project, April 2010. 3 Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. 4 Quoted in Science Technology Perspectives, Institute for the Future, SR 967. 5 Quoted in John P. Eberhard, and Brenda Patoine, Architecture With the Brain in Mind. The Dana Foundation weblog, 2004. Available at: http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=1254. 6 Joan Meyers-Levy, Rui Zhu, The influence of ceiling height: The effect of priming on the type of processing people use. Journal of Consumer Research 2007: 34. 7 Audrey Girouard, Erin Treacy Solovey et al., From Brain Signals to Adaptive Interfaces: using fNIRS in HCI. Brain Computer Interfacts: Human-Computer Interaction Series, 2010, 3: 221-237. 14