You hear a lot about the future of work nowadays. I’m one of the sources. I think it’s deeply important that we all prepare ourselves for a constantly changing world of work. And the way we will do that is through our transferable skills.
Remember that there are essentially two kinds of skills: What you know, and what you can do. We call what you know “special knowledges,” and what you can do “transferable skills.” Your knowledges are often rooted, or anchored, in a particular field or arena. And your transferable skills can be used in a variety of different situations.
For example, the knowledge of brain surgery won’t help you to fix a car engine, and vice versa. But communicating, or helping, or persuading - those skills are useful in a wide variety of situations. That’s why problem-solving is a transferable skill. And in the near future, you need to develop three important transferable skills.
1. Since work at its most basic is solving problems, you need to use your problem-solving skills. But not just any kind of problem-solving: Creative problem-solving. You’re going to encounter an increasing number of problems that will be new, to you and to those you work with. So you’ll need to approach those problems as creatively as possible.
2. You need to use your adaptive skills. Studies show this may be the most important transferable skill of all, in a rapidly-changing world. You’re going to need to continually adapt as you’re asked to solve new problems. So, when your work changes, you’ll need to change with it. The more adaptive you are, the more you’ll be able to continually find new work opportunities.
3. You need to use your transferable skill of being pro-active. As traditional jobs become less common, and project work becomes more frequent, you’ll need to step forward to solve new problems. And as you change, you’ll need to make your work change, too.
So those are your top transferable skills for the future: Proactive, adaptive, creative problem-solver.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you won’t need special knowledges. Far from it. You will constantly need to learn new bodies of information. And you’ll find that there will be many ways to learn that information more quickly.
But your top three transferable skills are going to be the most critical for you, as the world of work changes. And you’ll need to practice them, frequently, so you can continually improve them. Find as many opportunities as you can to use your transferable skills in a variety of situations, and you’ll become a proactive, adaptive, creative problem-solver who can continually find and create new work opportunities.