What should you learn in a changing world?

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Lately, I spoke with my mother on the phone and she told me that one of my cousin was starting a new job. He is a lawyer and he is leaving the law company he is working for to start something new. He will help his new employer to open a subsidiary in a new country. One of his reasons for this move is that the job is changing dramatically and that in ten years, a lawyer will do radically different things from what he is doing now. My mother was puzzled about this. I was not. I am working in the banking industry, which is known for being a conservative industry, and I am observing such changes too.

What should you learn in a changing world?

What should you learn in a changing world?

There is one point on which everyone agrees when speaking about the future of the job market. This is the importance of learning. According to writer and businessman Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learnunlearn, and relearn.“ 

However, as an individual wanting to avoid being left behind on the job market, this sounds a little unsatisfying. We all agree we should learn, but what should we learn exactly? This is a difficult question. How can you be sure that the skill you are learning now is not going to be automated in the future? After all, artificial intelligence is making progress in unexpected fields. A few years ago, automatic translation gave funny but mostly irrelevant results. Now, the results are always more accurate. 

Although it is difficult to foresee which skills you will need in the future, there are still some fields you should explore and master in order to remain competitive.

New technologies

This is the first field you should know more about. You should be aware of the disruptive potential of new technologies in your industry. For instance, in the banking industry, there is much interest for the blockchain technology which could utterly transform the banking world. In order to keep informed, you can:

  • Follow specialists of your industry on the Internet: they will evoke the technologies you should know about
  • Take online courses about new technologies
  • Learn some basic programming. You do not have to be an expert, but it will help you to understand more about many topics.
  • Read books about innovation and technologies 

Analytic skills

This is a direct consequence of the development of new technologies. With the Internet, we have more and more data available (big data). We need now people who can analyze these data, who can see the patterns, understand the consequences and set up a strategy. In order to improve your analytical skills, you can:

  • Take an online class or read a book about data science: this is one of the hottest topic in the ten next years
  • Learn about logics rules. Logics is not taught at school any more except in the frame of mathematics classes. Mastering it will improve your analytical skills.
  • Learn to play strategic games such as chess
  • Learn basic statistics and try to apply them: for instance, when you read about one study in a newspaper, ask yourself if the conclusion of the article is coherent with the figures

Social skills

Many jobs are supposed to disappear as many activities will be executed by artificial intelligence. However, people-related activities will be more in demand, because these activities can more difficultly be taken in charge by an artificial intelligence. This means that good social skills will enable you to develop your career.In order to improve your social skills, you can:

  • Read self-development books
  • Network with people having good social skills and try to imitate them
  • Learn about intercultural management as our societies are getting more and more diverse
  • Learn a new language: you can always better communicate with someone if you speak their language
  • Take online courses about psychology, communication or management

Practical skills

This is a little counterintuitive, but practical jobs might have a comeback. I mean, you know how difficult it is to find a good plumber when you need one… Not everyone can be an IT specialist or a manager and mastering practical skills can be the path to a successful and fulfilling career. Moreover, you can spare money if you do these tasks yourself. In order to improve your technical skills, you can:

  • Learn how to fix technical problems at home: when you face a problem, watch a tutorial on youtube and try to do the same.
  • Learn a specific skill: for instance, my husband noticed that traditional German cakes are more and more difficult to find in German bakeries so he took his grandmother’s old cookbook and began to bake. Now he can bake many of them perfectly and they are very popular amongst family, colleagues and friends.
  • Start a creative hobby and become very good at it. Do not just draw or take pictures but take classes and read books to improve your skills.


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