The skills you need to prosper in a world of disruption

Disruption in the workplace demands thinking that challenges the status quo.

Disruption in the workplace demands thinking that challenges the status quo. Photo: Getty

With the digital revolution running at breakneck speed and a range of other innovations set to sweep the world, your career needs to be built on the skills of dealing with workplace and industry disruption.

“Technology is moving faster than ever. There are jobs and careers that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” says Steve Shepherd, employment market analyst at Audrey Page and Associates.

“It’s hard to predict the next big thing, but what we know, it will happen quicker and faster.”

The key to survival and prosperity is building transferable skills, Mr Shepherd says.

A report, the New Basic from the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) 2016, described transferable skills as; problem solving, communications, financial literacy, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, digital literacy and presentation skills.

The disrupted world is here and we are living it, says Chris Maxwell, co-founder of skills acquisition consultancy 10,000 Hours.

“Telcos are re-positioning themselves as media companies, the big banks are vying to become technology innovation brands and AI robots are here.”

To stay relevant and on top of disruption Mr Maxwell says individuals and workplaces need to encourage conversations that challenge ideas, engage in debate and collective decision making.

“It’s about being frank, honest and comfortable in difficult conversations, whether you’re working alone or in a team,” Mr Maxwell says.

“It’s hard to predict skills for the future. Learn how to learn and build a capability to pick up new skills quickly. This mentality is referred to as ‘Meta Skills’,” Mr Maxwell says.

Developing a capacity to be productive whilst uncomfortable is vital, he says.

Developing a capacity to be productive whilst uncomfortable is vital.

Uncertainty leads to discomfort and uncertainty is a reality of change which doesn’t go away. So it’s necessary to recognise the discomfort and produce results despite it.

Small business can be especially vulnerable to disruption, says Mr Maxwell.

“They don’t have the financial muscle or scale of big business, which helps cushion against disruption and allows time to react,” he says.

“Although disruption may impact smaller businesses quicker, they’re more nimble, faster, flexible and can change with the tide. Larger companies take much more time to manoeuvre and can lose out on market share in the process.”

For workers the key to survival is being proactive.

“In the past employees relied on their employer to develop their future careers,” Mr Shepherd says.

“Today employees must be more vigilant in their careers and commit to a lifelong journey of learning and up-skilling. Ask ‘what do I need to learn and how?’ It’s your career and your responsibility.”

The traits necessary to keep up with the changing world include remaining curious about how things work. Look at what’s happening with people, businesses, political systems, economies and institutions.

Mr Maxwell says learning stops when your interest in what’s going on stops.

His advice: Read, watch and learn about other industries and don’t stick your niche. Talk with others who view the world differently because you never know when what you’ve learnt from someone will come in handy.

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