By 2025, it is estimated that the number of Americans over 60 (much of the baby boom generation) will increase by 70%. Workers will delay retirement in order to maintain financial stability, and average lifespans will continue to grow. This means that more and more older workers will stay in the workforce longer, aside a new generation of millennials (those born between roughly 1982 and 1993) whose views of work – and life – differ greatly from their own.
During this same “near-future” period, increasing technology and data will create a new level of collective intelligence, and patterns will be broken and formed in fields ranging from education to engineering. Online forums and science games will engage thousands of people to solve problems that no one organization has the resources to solve alone.
By studying major disruptors in the workforce, including technology and generational difference, Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future identified ten skills that would be most in demand in ten years. Their findings placed a particular focus on social capabilities and emerging technology – topics that most bachelors’ degrees just don’t cover.
These ten skills break down as follows. In the social capabilities category, they list social intelligence, sense-making, novel and adaptive thinking, trans-disciplinarity, and cross-cultural competency. In the category of emerging technology, they list new media literacy, computational thinking, cognitive load management, design mindset, and virtual collaboration.
While companies look for ways to innovate, they are increasingly pointing to diversity as a driver. Disparate opinions, experiences, and backgrounds often find creative solutions. By creating work groups that include millennials and members of the baby boom generation, companies can innovate on several platforms, from operations and marketing to product-development and finance.
What the baby boom generation brings to the table is often face-to-face business experience. They began their careers in a world where it simply wasn’t possible to take a project from start to finish over email. They are more likely to have learned through in-person meetings and telephone conversations, picking up on social cues and inflections of voice – some of the elements of social intelligence.
They are also more likely to have been forced to change their career. Most older workers will have to change their profession at least once in this millennium due to changes in the economy or in technology. If they’re still in a position of leadership, that means they’ve mastered some level of adaptive or trans-disciplinary thinking.
Millennials, on the other hand, were born with technology at their fingertips. They know how to exist in the world of new media, They are wired to communicate with computers, and by the time they’ve joined the workforce, they are likely to have collaborated on many projects via email, video chat, or social media.
There are plenty of reports about the effect of generational change or technological advancement, and “what you can do.” To really understand and get ahead of it, it’s important to create true, respectful relationships between team members, and to build groups that are diverse. It’s important to realize that our greatest competitive advantage over technology is our ability to communicate with one another.
To learn more about courses we offer in new media, or courses and programs that focus on soft skills like social intelligence, check out our catalog today. For more information on the Institute for the Future, go to their website.