Creative Problem Solving and Communication Skills are Needed

Creative problem solving and communication are skills that people need to learn to “robot-proof” themselves, and have fulfilling careers now and in the future. The work environment is changing rapidly. Baby Boomers might have stayed in their career jobs for decades, but today, nine out of 10 millennials plan to stay at their jobs for fewer than three years. That means millennials could potentially have 15 or more jobs that span their work life. That could make for an interesting career, but how do workers learn the skills they need and prepare to be successful at 15 different jobs?

The World Economic Forum Jobs: For the Future report says that an estimated 65 percent of children in elementary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t even exist yet. The future can bring amazing developments, but, how does anyone prepare for jobs that aren’t defined and don’t yet exist?

The answer is to develop skills that robots can’t duplicate. Robots can perform repetitive tasks, robots can free people from dangerous tasks, and AI can solve complicated equations. But despite the wonders of technology, the world still needs people’s unique abilities. Creative problem solving and communication skills aren’t people’s only unique skills, but in survey after survey they come up as two of the most highly sought after skills.

Creative problem solving is in demand

A global study by Adobe stated that creative problem solving is critical to future career success in the age of automation. Seventy-four percent of educators and 76 percent of policy makers say that jobs that require creative problem solving are less likely to be impacted by automation than other jobs. Whether it is to design or improve the products that technology can build, people need to know how to define a problem, brainstorm for solutions and test for their effectiveness.

The World Economic Forum job skills report says that by 2020 36 percent of all jobs across all industries are expected to require complex problem-solving as one of their core skills. This won’t just require life-long learning, the report says. It will need “wholesale reskills of existing workforces throughout their lifecycle.” People need to develop skills that robots can’t.

Higher education and business leaders can work together to develop ways to teach creative problem solving skills to adults. As working adults learn skills, businesses will benefit. Curriculum development that is related to business needs and challenges can give adults opportunities to practice observation, risk-taking, problem solving, and communication. Workers can apply knowledge they are acquiring while they are on the job.

Communication skills complement creative problem skills

Communication skills will improve teamwork and the ability of workers to learn from each other and use technology to its best advantage. Workers with strong communication skills can state and explain their ideas clearly. They are able to use each person’s ideas, experience and problem solving skills effectively. They can communicate with each other about technological advances. They can propose ideas and solutions clearly to their coworkers. Linkedin analyzed the skills of its members in 100 metropolitan areas and compared them to the skills needed for jobs in those areas. They found a shortage of 1.4 million people with communication skills compared to a shortage of just 472,000 people with software development skills. People with communication skills are essential for businesses to grow and develop.

There is no doubt that people need to have basic digital literacy now and in the future, but the ability to communicate effectively is what will keep business ideas growing and make it possible for business to evolve and change in response to market demands.

In the Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016 recruiters named communication skills and creative problem solving as “truly valuable skills: recruiters want them, but consider them rare.” Bloomberg calls these less common, more desired skills “The Sweet Spot.” Workers who want to find themselves in the “sweet spot” need to have technical skills, but they also need the soft-skills of creative problem solving and communication to be invaluable to their employers.