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New KnowledgeWorks paper explores skills needed to succeed in future workforce

Flexibility, creativity to be crucial readiness skills for future careers

Published:
Topics: Emerging Trends, Future of Learning

The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out explores how career readiness may be redefined to better prepare students for an uncertain future.To succeed in the workforce in 2040, students will need a flexible skillset that promotes social and emotional awareness, according to new research by KnowledgeWorks.

Based on a series of in-depth interviews with employees at cutting-edge organizations, as well as site visits to workspaces and strategic foresight research into current trends, The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out explores how career readiness may be redefined to better prepare students for an uncertain future. Specifically, the paper considers key attributes needed for success, including deep self-knowledge, emotional regulation and social awareness.

“Babies born this year will have already graduated college by 2040,” KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Strategic Foresight Katherine Prince said. “By redefining readiness, we will better ensure all students are prepared for a future that is filled with uncertainty.”

The workforce is already going through incredible change due to advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and other forms of automation, Prince said. At the same time, companies are increasingly turning to freelancers and project-based hires, creating a gig economy in which fewer people hold traditional full-time jobs. In the future, jobs could require people to develop short-term, flexible skills to transfer frequently between jobs or tasks, rather than focusing primarily on the specific academic knowledge emphasized in today’s readiness measurements.

More flexible skills, such as those focused on social-emotional development, promise to help students become resilient, reflective and able to form positive connections and relationships. “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” explores three core skills that promote the social and emotional awareness needed to succeed in the future workforce:

  1. Deep self-knowledge: Individuals will need continually to discover their own personal and professional strengths, weaknesses, passions and emotional patterns.
  2. Emotional regulation: Workers will need to be able to recognize their own emotions, understand the triggers that create them, and move to more productive emotional states.
  3. Empathy and perspective taking: People will need to be able to recognize others’ emotions and perspectives to help build inclusive, collaborative work environments.

By proposing a new foundation for readiness based on these core social-emotional skills, KnowledgeWorks hopes to work with education stakeholders to think toward 2040 to help all students develop the skills needed to succeed in the future workforce.

“Work and employment are constantly changing, and it’s crucial to think critically about what’s next,” KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler said. “KnowledgeWorks currently partners with districts throughout the country to build personalized learning environments that will help ready students for the future. This new research about what work in 2040 could look like has pushed our thinking even more, and we look forward to collaborating with educators, school leaders and district administrators to reflect on the skills our students will need to succeed.”

The paper dives deeper into concepts from KnowledgeWorks’ ten year-forecast, The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code. It surfaces insights from the ethnographic research, shares scenarios for what future work could look like, and highlights opportunities for education stakeholders to act today to prepare students for the future.

About KnowledgeWorks

KnowledgeWorks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing personalized learning that empowers all students to take ownership of their success.

With more than 50 professionals working in 11 states, KnowledgeWorks is uniquely positioned to transform cradle to career education because we’re the only organization that simultaneously engages in strategic forecasting, governmental advocacy and working directly with schools. Throughout our 20-year history, we’ve been passionate about collaborating to create a system-wide approach that grows and sustains student-centered practices – all to equip learners for career and life success.

Through customized professional development, in-depth research such as forecasts on the future of learning and federal education policy guidance and state-level ESSA implementation support, KnowledgeWorks has created opportunities for more than 135,000 students in 20 states through competency-based learning and early collegewww.knowledgeworks.org