As disruptive forces reshape the workplace, leaders must collaborate to build workers’ future skills
Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the factors reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and
the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future. Mobile devices and cloud computing have freed workers from their desktops and allow many to work in virtual environments where they may never see their colleagues face-to-face. Massive amounts of data are now available for mining: an estimated 281 exabytes, or 281 billion gigabytes, of data were created in 2008, compared to 161 exabytes in 2006 (Gantz et al., 2008). User-friendly platforms allow consumers to easily produce and distribute various forms of media, including websites, blogs, videos, photography portfolios and animated films—creating the expectation that employees will be proficient in such forms of communication. Advances in telecommunications mean that corporations have become truly transnational: a firm may perform its research and development in one country, its manufacturing in another, and its business operations in a third. Smart machines now perform many jobs that once consisted of rote work or manual labor; in the absence of these repetitive tasks, employees are now increasingly required to develop their more uniquely human capacities.
These trends combine to produce disruptions that will significantly redefine the skills workers will need to remain competitive in the future. The landscape
of work is changing, and individuals, educational institutions, industry leaders and policymakers should consider how to adapt quickly in response.
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