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Four ways to keep your skills relevant for the future


How can you be confident that your skills will be relevant for the jobs of the future? As technology develops, borders expand, consumer patterns change and industries evolve; roles will grow and skills in demand will change.The businesses to sustain and prosper will be the ones to keep abreast of these developments, adapting accordingly.

Whilst nobody can predict the future, staying on the ball will help companies define which new hard skills (e.g.-digital competencies) are needed to keep up with changes.

Forward thinking companies will also be hiring for the soft skills which stand the test of time and cannot be replaced by robots, for example relationship building, curiosity and innovative thinking.

Consequently, the employees who continue to thrive within a professional environment will be the ones who are also in tune with any changes, developing new hard and soft skills to adapt. The question is – how can you become one of these “future-proofed” employees?

1. Keep your finger on the pulse

Be aware of any transformations which could affect your industry and your role. These could include digital, consumer, economic and political changes.

For example, many financial institutions have begun using AI technologies or “chat bots” to respond to online clients. Therefore if you work in online customer services for the finance industry, it would be in your interest to consider understand how this technology is programmed, and if this is a skill you want to acquire in order to remain in your industry.

Many organisations will offer training courses to broaden your skills set. If not, take the power into your own hands. There are plenty of ways to educate and up skill yourself, whether it’s through podcasts, webinars, or reading industry publications and press releases.

Ultimately, it is down to you to keep your finger on the pulse and ensure that your skills are relevant to your future working environment.

2. Remember how much your soft skills matter

As previously mentioned, whilst you cannot fully predict exact future changes to your role, you can guarantee soft skills will be continue to be essential.

There’s currently a lot of talk about automation and artificial intelligence (AI) taking over manual and repetitive tasks. However, as our CEO Alistair Cox mentions in his recent blog, whilst technical skills are being replaced, soft skills such as relationship building, intuition and leadership will always be need needed.

It is the soft skills that will transcend change and add to your value in the years ahead. It is down to you to define and develop these.

3. Get global experience

Globalisation is increasing and companies are expanding beyond borders, a process catalyzed by changes in technology. Therefore future roles are likely to have a global remit and the potential for international mobility.

As such, your current or future employers are likely to be looking for people who have experience working with, and even within other regions and cultures. My colleague Rosemary Lemon outlines steps you can take to becoming a “global employee” in her recent blog. These include a willingness to learn about local markets, appreciating other business cultures, and adapting accordingly.

4. Consider how “future proofed” your environment is

With all of this in mind-ask yourself, how future proofed is your current or aspirant employer?

There’s a chance you are being held back by a company or industry which refuses to revolutionise. Are they growing financially, expanding internationally, demanding soft skills and providing up to the minute training for the ever changing harder skills that are in demand? Are they being approached for expert advice and insight by external bodies?

If not, then they won’t help, and will most likely hinder your “future-proofing strategy”. Ultimately, you need to assess how “future proof” your future at this organisation is.

In summary, the key to making yourself a “future proofed” employee, is to mirror the ways in which companies are “future proofing” their employees, i.e.- keeping abreast of changes in their industry, constantly assessing which soft and hard skills are needed, and realising the importance of global adaptability.