Languages for the 10 Future Work Skills 2020


According to a study conducted by the Institute for the Future (University of Phoenix) in 2011, there are six drivers that shape the 10 future work skills in 2020.

This is a great study focusing on future work skills rather than future jobs.

The six drivers bring the changes: Life is longer but speed is faster; World is smaller but culture influence is bigger.

Though only one skill directly links with languages – Cross Cultural Competency, I think all other nine skills also need language skills.

Let’s have a close look.

  1. Sense – Making: “ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed” (IFTF, same below in italic)
    Language skills and cross culture awareness can help understand the deeper meaning.
  2. Social Intelligence: “ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
    Language is the best way to connect with others. It can not be replaced by a machine. People talk to People!
  3. Novel & Adaptive Thinking:”proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based”
    Physiological studies have found language study help cognitive process and become more perceptive. See “Seven cognitive advantages to learning a foreign language”
  4. Cross -Cultural Competency: “ability to operate in different cultural settings”
    Obviously,language is the best tool to help you be cross cultural competency.
  5. Computational Thinking: “ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning”
    Instantly, this is nothing to do languages. But as the CEO of WPP – the advertising conglomerate – Martin Sorrell said only two languages are important “Chinese and [computer] code”. There are huge Chinese consumer data in Mandarin and if you can read it directly, you get the edge of competition.
  6. New-Media Literacy:”ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication”
    While Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube all blocked in China and Wechat, QQ and other Chinese social media spread all over the world, it is good to learn Mandarin to leverage persuasive communication.
  7. Transdisciplinarity: “literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines”
    A “T-shaped” quality is required for future work skills. “T” – deep understanding in one field and knowledge of a broader range of disciplines. Knowing a 2nd language will definitely help here.
  8. Design Mindset:”ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes”
    Your mindset is restricted by the environment. A 2nd language can open your eyes to a new world.
  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”
    Most of case, the media only pick up the the news based on their interest and these News are filtered to you based on your interest. If you want to get a full picture of a country, it is better to see it yourself. A 2nd language will help you view from a different angle.
  10. Virtual Collaboration: “ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.
    Many international companies now use English as the official language for their communication. SoftBank Japan request all Japanese employee use English for work related communications. However, this does not mean you do not need to learn Japanese. As the Japanese business culture, most of the important decisions are made on golf course or around the dinner table in Japanese. The documents are only used to record and communicate the decision.

This study was done in 2011. Some of the above 10 future work skills have become reality and will continue to be important skills.

In the past six years, China has become the 2nd largest economy in the world while Japan is recovering from its long time depreciation.

Mandarin and Japanese are becoming more and more important for Australian. We are in a Asian Century.

Lyrebird Language Centre is specialised in Mandarin and Japanese teaching in Brisbane.

If you want to build up the above 10 skills for yourself or your children, please contact us for a tailored program for a trial.

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