The future workplace: Digital literacy, complex problem solving and emotional intelligence
Your skillset will determine the efficiency of your workplace.
The UAE government has launched a strategy to prepare the future workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In line with this strategy and advancing the economic growth within the region, the skills, strengths and behaviours that we teach students studying at the University of Birmingham Dubai, reflect those outlined here. We refrain from using the popular term 'soft skills' and instead would refer to the below as 'essential business skills.'
Digital literacy: No longer a skill reserved for those that want to get into the technology sector, increasingly employers across sectors are expecting for the next generation to be tech-savvy. Digital skills required include, but are not limited to; the ability to understand and utilise social media, the ability to analyse big data to make informed decisions, and the use of digital outputs to present information in a concise but engaging way.
Complex problem solving and creative thinking: I have cheated here, and included two skills. However, I feel that both go hand-in-hand. In this brave new world, routine tasks are declining, whilst new social, economic and environmental challenges will test the mental agility of our future workforce. It is essential that our students are able to solve complex problems creatively in a real-world setting from multiple perspectives. We encourage our students to think creatively, think smarter and approach the problem from different angles.
Emotional intelligence (E.I.): As robot use increases, it is reassuring that the industry partners we work with would still rank E.I. as an important skill for tomorrow's world. An employee with high emotional intelligence is said to make a better colleague and leader, as they are able to understand the emotions of others and how they impact on those around them.
Ability to adapt: As we prepare our students for jobs that do not yet exist, learning how to adopt a flexible mindset is becoming increasingly important to industry partners. We prepare our students to expect flexible job descriptions, work in interchangeable teams and be resilient when faced with last minute changes. Interestingly, it is said that those that have high levels of E.I. are more able to adapt to changing situations.
Cultural Intelligence: One of the global trends shaping the future workforce is demographic change and growing diversity, which includes but is not limited to, gender, race and age. The working world is getting smaller, and technological changes have made it easier to work with teams on the other side of the world. Preparing our students for a world where the people they work with will not look, act or even think the same way as them, will help them adjust successfully to a cross-cultural team.
- Roshni Barot is Employer Engagement Manager, University of Birmingham Dubai
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