Skills for the Future

The 6 Drivers of Change and 10 Future Work Skills

Aaron Bare
6 min readOct 1, 2013


The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has created a compelling study to share the skills that our future work force needs to start preparing for their future today. The skills needed for tomorrows workers are very different than they are today. IFTF has dissected 6 major themes that are driving this change and creating paths towards tomorrow’s skill sets. Here we will dive deep into each theme, skill set and share ways these skills can be leveraged today as a distinguishable advantage in a hyper competitive job market.

Future Work Skills 2020

The 6 Drivers of Change

The 6 drivers present a compelling look at the future of the work force and the needed changes for our education system to teach skills that actually matter. Global connectivity, smart machines and new media are just some drivers shaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive in the future. Here are six disruptive shifts that are likely to reshape the future landscape of our work force:

  1. Extreme longevity: Increasing global life spans change the nature of careers and learning. Multiple careers will be commonplace and lifelong learning to prepare for occupational change will see major growth. To take advantage of this well-experienced and still vital workforce, organizations will have to rethink the traditional career paths in organizations, creating more diversity, adaptability and flexibility.
  2. Rise of smart machines and systems: Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks.Smart machines will also establish new expectations and standards of performance. We will be entering into a new kind of partnership with machines that will build on our mutual strengths, resulting in a new level of human-machine collaboration and co-dependence as the world digitizes around us.
  3. Computational world: Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system. Every object, every interaction, everything we come into contact with will be converted into data. Thus we will usher in an era of “everything is programmable”—an era of thinking about the world in computational, programmable and designable terms. The programable world will begin to solve many of the world’s current issues, simplifying and applying knowledge with smart applications that continue to improve the quality of our lives.
  4. New media ecology: New communication tools require new media literacy beyond text. A new ecosystem will take shape around these areas. We are literally developing a new vernacular, a new language for communication between leaders and followers. Between management and staff. At the same time, virtual networks are being integrated more and more seamlessly into our environment and lives, channeling new media into our daily experience without disrupting our desires to connect in person. Social media is beginning to drive social experience as we interact with our virtual and physical worlds interchangeably sharing everything with our networks. Life streaming will likely absorb any last remnant of a life offline, yet we will accept it as it makes us more competitive.
  5. Super-structured organizations: Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation. Amplified by a new level of collective intelligence and tapping resources embedded in social connections with multitudes of others, we can now achieve the kind of scale and reach previously attainable only by very large organizations. In other words, we can do things outside of traditional organizational boundaries. It means to collaborate and play at extreme scales, from the micro to the massive. Learning to use new social tools to work, to invent, and to govern at these scales is what the next few decades are all about.
  6. Globally connected world: Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations. Communicating with colleagues from all corners of the planet will be the norm for small businesses to multinational power houses. Globalization is the long-term trend toward greater exchanges and integration across geographic borders. In our highly globally connected and interdependent world we will see vast changes of cultural integration and a strong need for cultural sensitivity at the same time.

I see the skills for the future as a framework to share what the careers and opportunities of the future will demand. What we do know if that future workers will need to take initiative, be entrepreneurial, creative, analytical and be able to manage many projects simultaneously. Not multi-task, yet get things done at levels of productivity unseen. So to set the frame: skills for the future, we need to dive deep into the 10 skills that will set the next work force apart from the current work force.

10 Skills for the Future

10 Skills for the Future

What are the 10 skills that are needed in future workforce?

  1. Sense Making: Ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  2. Social Intelligence: Ability to connect with others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
  3. Novel & adaptive thinking: Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule based.
  4. Cross — Cultural competency: Ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational thinking: Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning.
  6. New media literacy: Ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication.
  7. Trans-disciplinary: Literacy in, and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
  8. Design mindset: Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcome.
  9. Cognitive load management: Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.
  10. Virtual collaboration: Ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of virtual team.

These skills will represent the upward transition of the wealthiest people in the next 10 years. Wealth creation will be able ability to use these skills to get things done in the context of a new definition of success in our near future. A success that is not defined in dollars, yet in impact as a new generation embraces social causes over Wall Street. The future skills will be needed to accomplish either philanthropic endeavors to managing the currency integration of the world. The digital have’s and have nots will divide further, yet the ability to jump socio-economic boundaries will be easier and easier for those that engage in these new skill sets. So I wish you luck, go create your own luck by working on each of these skills and finding success in your network to leverage these skills and your talent to find your deepest purpose and passion.

Credits: Institute for the Future & Pearl Zhu



Aaron Bare

Author of Exponential Theory. Founder of the Change Agents Academy. Learn more at (