Select Language

The Changing World of Work

The Drivers of Change

In 2011, the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a Silicon Valley-based research foundation, named six drivers of change to the work landscape. These disruptive shifts would reshape how we think about work and even what work looks like.

The age of industry has yielded to the digital age. Novel forces are shaping the work landscape:

  • Increasing lifespans. Workers can expect to change careers at least once. The ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge will be essential.
  • The rise of workplace automation. Machines and artificial intelligence will eliminate more jobs. The need for workers to build the algorithms that control the machines means that automation will also create jobs.
  • Sensors and processing power make the world a programmable place.
  • Communication technology is the primary cause of social change. Today’s new media ecology is comprised of media forms that are native to computers, computational and reliant on computers for distribution.
  • Social technologies dominate.
  • Our planet is globally connected.

The Future Skills

The world of work in the 21st century will require these skills:

Resilience. Can you overcome setbacks and challenges? Are you flexible with change and stable in demanding situations?

Cross-cultural competency. Can you operate in different cultural settings?

Communication. Can you connect with others effectively? Can you sense and stimulate reactions and interactions?

Collaboration. Can you work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a team member?

Creative & adaptive thinking. Can you think of ideas and develop solutions - skills that aren't easily automated?

Cognitive load management. Can you discriminate and filter information for importance, using perception, thinking, reasoning and remembering?

Sense-making. Can you think clearly and rationally? Do you understand how and why ideas connect?

Media literacy. Can you use and develop content across media forms - video, simulations, models and images.

Entrepreneurialism. Can you meet an unsatisfied demand or radically improve the performance of something?

Transdisciplinarity. Can you access and understand data across several subjects? Are you willing to continually learn?

Productivity & accountability. Can you create a product and take responsibility for its performance?

In a 2016 review, IFTF concluded that ‘educational institutions...must realise that their current structures are largely the products of technology infrastructure and social circumstances of the past.