Digital Skills Students Will Need for The Future of Work

With the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there have been significant changes and disruptions to various industries. Additionally, technological advances in the past decade have transformed how we live, work and prioritize digital skills. 

While some jobs will disappear as they become automated, such as factory and administrative roles, new jobs will surface to meet the disruptions brought about by Industry 4.0. Moreover, by re-aligning our priorities to equip our children with the necessary digital skills, we can help them be future-ready.

Educators globally have been identifying essential digital skills for their curriculum to help make their students future-ready.

After seven years of working with schools worldwide to integrate technology education across all subjects, I’ve identified a list of three critical digital skills I believe will play a crucial role in student’s development and success as they enter the future of work. 

Complex Problem Solving Skills

Usually, problem-solving involves applying a standard set of steps and processes, including defining the problem, setting a goal, deciding on the best solution, and applying it. 

However, it’s important to note that these steps are largely insufficient for the complex issues ahead.

An exemplary process for developing complex problem-solving digital skills is the RATIO (Reflect, Analyze, Target, Implement, Observe) Problem Solving steps, which the CoThink Academy introduced. 

The RATIO process improves how we tackle complex issues and problems. Also, this process introduces a more profound critical thinking skill set into the process. This is accomplished by focusing on objectives and possible methods and tools to solve them. 

This helps students learn how to reflect and observe allowing solutions to be iterated upon to match the ever-changing demands of the future workforce.

A great example of this process in the workforce is how the manufacturing industry used RATIO to tackle its bottling line. During the Observe phase, they identified issues that they had to cycle back and reflect upon.

Another example of a future complex problem will be maintaining privacy as our lives become increasingly digital. We know that the advancements of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) collect and compile our data. The question is, how can we use this data to help reduce global waste?

Creative Thinking Skills

For more than half of the jobs we see today, 30% of tasks are automatable. As technology rapidly evolves, this is projected to increase. As a result, we will quickly forget the previously revered technological breakthroughs, and specialized skill sets become obsolete. Creative thinking allows us to be agnostic to technologies and think outside the box to tackle future challenges we will face.

An essential skill for the future workforce facing technologies like automation is creative thinking. Technologies like automation are simply tools that can be seen to augment us instead of replacing us. These tools heavily rely on our creative thinking to identify novel ways to use them to solve problems. 

For example, the retail sector is currently using automation to handle transactions now. Their goal is to provide the sales teams information on their customers to lead to a more personalized customer experience. 

To ensure a future workforce, we must be able to do what machines are unable to.

It is essential to invest in the growth of people who are creative and versatile. And who are eager to learn and will be flexible through each technological advance.

Social / Emotional Skills

Outside of the usual digital skills, its essential to look at transferrable or soft skills that allow us to collaborate and communicate more effectively.

Social and emotional skills, like self-awareness, empathy, respect for other individuals, and the ability to communicate will be essential as classrooms and workplaces become more ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse.

Interaction in the workplace means collaborating as teams, people playing off each other’s strengths and adapting to changing circumstances. Such non-repetitive interaction is at the core of the human advantage over machines.

There are specific social-emotional skills, like visual processing, that schools can look to promote with their students. These skills allow students to practice solving logical problems visually to comprehend the information better.

Education fosters the types of attitudes and values, such as openness and respect for others as individuals. However, moving forwards, students need to be more inclusive and reflective of more diverse societies that they will find when they enter the future workforce. 

To back this up, research held by some leading industry experts identifies the importance of these digital skills. For example, the study maintained by Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Survey showcases an increase in demand for digital skills. 

If you want to chat more about future-ready skills, feel free to email me at

about Nickey
Nickey is a Co-Founder and CTO of BSD Education, Refugeek, and the Founder of Collective Global. He is an expert in infusing technology and digital solutions into businesses.
He heads up innovation projects to evolve products and services using a combination of Design, Development, UX, and Marketing skills. He works on large scale digital transformation projects, digital marketing, and the effective use of social media to drive business success and harness the power data. Nickey is a Co-Founder of BSD Education, Refugeek, and Collective Global.

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