By Dr. Jaclyn Lee, PhD and IHRP-MP Published on December 6, 2016
Following from my previous article on staying ahead and keeping abreast, I would like to continue this
series by zooming in on five key skills that are needed for us to stay ahead in the digital economy.
Fast forward to 2020, we can see that the key trends will include a rapidly aging population, the rise of
smart machines and systems, new media, social tools, global connectivity as well as increased use of
sensors and processing for analytics.
As I have shared in the recent NTUC U Leaders Forum, PMETs will now need to prepare themselves
for this onslaught of technology and digitization. Whether we like it or not, it is going to happen,
and the sooner we prepare ourselves, the better equipped we are: The 5 key skills (researched from
different sources) that we need to start harnessing will include the following:
1. Innovative and adaptive thinking - This means having the ability to think and come up with
solutions beyond that which is routine. Some examples would be using technology and design
thinking to integrate new ideas into existing processes, systems and products. As the world shifts
towards automation of routine work and off-shoring, people with an ability to adapt and respond to
unique expected circumstances of the moment will thrive in the workplace.
2 Virtual Collaboration and social intelligence - Ability to work virtually across boundaries as
the internet becomes more pervasive in all parts of the world, is another important skill to possess.
This includes the ability to assemble a virtual team together to work on projects and harnessing the
power of technology to develop deep collaborations. Examples including using collaborative tools,
and tapping into talent networks across the globe through the use of virtual platforms like
UPWORK. As we work with people from all cultures, race, and religion, social intelligence will set
us apart from machines. Social Intelligence includes having the skills to develop deep and
meaningful relationships with others, to collaborate, and to sense and adapt our thinking styles, and
mannerisms to align with others.
3 Ability to work across disciplines - The world now needs systems, services and products, which
means that the ability to work across disciplines become important. More and more workplaces
will require multi-disciplinary teams to develop such an ecosystem. Elon Musk, the extremely
successful billionaire who built four multi-billion companies by his mid-40s, is an “Expert-
Generalist”. His expertise ranges from Rocket Science, Engineering, Physics, Artificial Intelligence
to Solar Power and Energy. His ability to integrate concepts from different fields help him to be able to
spot trends and patterns that others were not able to. Thus, understanding several disciplines helps
us to be able to transfer and integrate knowledge in a way a single discipline is not able to do.
4 Literacy in different types of media - The ability to understand various media platforms, and
how best to communicate effectively with them are valuable skills. As the world is now gradually
being driven by social media, the ability to develop content using new media forms and leverage
these for persuasive communication becomes key.
5 Computational Thinking and Analytics - Digitization and technological advancement will drive
the need for tech-related skills. In particular, computational thinking will be a highly demanded skill
as big data and analytics become a reality in our everyday lives. Data scientists will be required to
ply through mountains of data to make sense of everything, spot trends and patterns for use in
consumer marketing, human resources, banking and other sectors. Being trained as a Psychologist,
and working as a Human Resource Practitioner, I was not able to really understand and use data
in my job until 4 years back when I decided to take up a Doctorate in Information Technology. The
training equipped me with the skills to use software, new media tools, as well as analytics to
become much more effective in my job.
As we move into the new age of advancing technology, we will need to transform ourselves day by
day. You are in the sweet spot now to take that quantum leap for the digital economy. I wish you every
success in your journey.