The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and by 2020 (just 3 years from now!) the workplace will be synonymous with advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. These developments are already changing the way that we live and work. And for many young people in South Africa, 60% of whom find themselves unemployed, there is a very real need to focus on acquiring, developing or enhancing the skills that are in demand in order to access the jobs of the future.

Shifting Job Landscape

We’re already seeing drastic shifts in what employers are looking for. Jobs that were previously commonplace are no longer even being recruited for and we see an increase in requests for jobs that many people have never heard of before.

In our specialist areas we have already seen the creation, and rise in popularity, of the role of Data Science. And it’s no wonder. With information being created at a pace too rapid to even comprehend, it’s unsurprising that businesses of all types are having to employ individuals to monitor, unpack and interpret this information in order to help them make real-time business decisions.

Whilst a level of uncertainty exists, what is certain is that in order to future-proof our kids, we need to ensure that education is aligned to the new skill set needed, now and in the future.  Sadly there is an entire generation who find themselves outside of the schooling system, supposedly armed with a qualification that should enable them access to jobs but who are struggling to find their place.

Whilst it is not necessarily practical to go back to school or get an additional certification, there are skills that young people can focus on developing and putting front and centre when they’re applying for jobs.

In-demand Skills

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs report sought to understand from global business leaders what core skills will be needed in 2020 and it’s clear that there is a definite bias to the type of skill that will be required.

Top 10 Skills Required

  1. Complex Problem Solving

  2. Critical Thinking

  3. Creativity

  4. People Management

  5. Coordinating with Others

  6. Emotional Intelligence

  7. Judgment & Decision Making

  8. Service Orientation

  9. Negotiation

  10. Cognitive Flexibility

In an age where information is abundant, and almost anything can be found by a quick click, retention of facts and figures is no longer important. Rather, the skills of critical thinking, complex problem solving, creativity and cognitive flexibility will take centre stage.

We’ve already seen this shift as engineers become highly sought after, including in non-traditional environments such as banks. With technology driving business, leverage is created by those organisations who’re able to better manage the re-imagination, implementation and execution of rapidly changing business models.

Problem-solving skills are essential and whilst the default of many employers is to make a judgement on an individual’s ability in this space by virtue of whether or not they did Maths at school – and how well they passed – there are other ways to test this. There is an interesting project happening in the Western Cape currently where NGOs are putting in place instruments of assessment to test young people’s propensity for problem-solving and cognitive flexibility. Their goal is to develop an alternative method of assessment (other than Maths) to enable those individuals who didn’t do Maths the opportunity to access learnerships, apprenticeships and jobs where this is an entry criteria.

Perhaps it’s time for employers to also re-think their methods of assessment, choosing to rather assess than assume based on an individual’s subject choice at school?

New Ways of Working

Technology has also provided us with the opportunity to work anywhere, anytime. And whilst many of us are finding that this means we’re ON 24/7, young people don’t seem to have the same problem. Younger workers are demanding greater flexibility and the opportunity to integrate, not balance, their work and private life.

At TSR, we’re committed to representing the High Achievers, individuals who add real value and make great impact, and who in turn have clear expectations of what they want and need from their careers.

Taking the lead, we have also re-imagined our business, developing new ways of working to help the organisations and individuals we represent to find mutually beneficial matches. We partner with our clients through our Assured Recruitment services to enable them to create environments that make them attractive employers and where the ‘stickiness’ of the employer-employee relationship is greatly improved.