The Institute of the Future "Future Work Skills 2020 Report."

The Institute of the Future "Future Work Skills 2020 Report."

In the next five years, employees will need to visibly provide value above and beyond the investment their employers are making in their compensation packages. This push for value-focused employment will drive instructional designers to address and promote the development of skills the marketplace rewards. 

One of the first equations a business student learns is ROI – i.e., return on investment. ROI allows us to see what amount of value that we invest in an asset is returned to us. In cases where we gain more than we invest, our investment is perceived to be successful.  Globalization will continue to be a growing source of competitive forces that shape the workforce. This competition requires companies to carefully consider the return on investment it receives from various individuals within its workforce.

ROI is calculated with the following equation:

((Gain – investment)/investment)

From an employer’s perspective, the investment in an employee -- her compensation package -- is relatively fixed. Given this fact, return on investment can be enhanced primarily by increasing the gain the company receives as a result of an employee’s efforts.

The Institute of the Future (IFTF) released a list of projected skills that the workforce of 2020 will need. These skills will help employees provide value and justify their existence within a company structure. The skills include:

  1. Sense-making ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social intelligence - ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel & adaptive thinking proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural competencyability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational thinking ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New-media literacyability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarityliteracy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines 
  8. Design mindsetability to represent and develop asks and work processes for desired outcomes
  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
  10. Virtual collaborationability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

An effective instructional designer and leader can create curriculum to influence human performance in nearly all these areas to some degree. (Granted, these skills make take years to develop, but progress can be made over the course of thoughtful instruction and learning experiences.) Assuming IFTF is correct in its projections in that these skills will be valued in the future market, then enhancing employees’ abilities and efficiencies in these set of skills is a way to add instant value to organizations with which effective instructional designers are employed.

Benjamin Disraeli said, “There can be economy only where there is efficiency.” As designers structure their materials to enhance efficiencies in this future skill-set, value will be created in the economy, employers will benefit from better returns on investment, and employees will enjoyed added job security.