Pakistani youngsters

Today we stand at the verge of the fourth industrial revolution that will utterly transform the way we live, communicate, work and perform our daily routine tasks. This revolution is building on the third revolution that was the digitalization of technology and it is said to be the combination of different technologies that will end the haziness among biological, physical and digital spheres. This change will be something remarkable that any human being hasn’t ever experienced before. We really don’t know how the future will unfold it. However, we should be clear that our response to it must be concrete and comprehensive.


The world’s norms around us are changing so fast and in a drastic way than ever. There are certain disruptive shifts that are acting as the drivers for causing the change. Some of these drivers as mentioned by the Institute for Future and University of Phoenix are the rise of smart machines and systems, globally connected world, super structured organizations, extreme longevity and the beginning of new media ecology.

As stated by the World Economic Forum, 35% of the fundamental skills of today might not remain the necessary skills to succeed in a job five years later. In order to stay one step ahead, teachers should realize importance of these disruptive shifts and should start preparing students for the future.


According to the Muse, Institute for Future and University of Phoenix and Time Magazine, the following skills are the top 10 skills that are needed by the students in order to compete in the race for tomorrow:

  1. Critical Thinking

As the society will progress with time, so will we witness lift in the complexity of our problems.  Only a person with multi-talented skills would be able to tackle such multifaceted problems which we can’t even envisage of them right now. Therefore, 21st century students need the ability to solve complex problems in real time and must be able to determine significance and worth of what is being expressed. They must be able to look at the problems in depth and from various angles. Despite which ever field they choose for their career, they must be able to act and think promptly and should devise their own solutions. This skill will work as an indispensable tool for the future.

  • Computational Thinking

With the advancement of new communication tools and data science that is the big data analysis, students need the ability to interpret and critically assess huge amount of data that is  in both raw and structured form and then convert it into a meaningful abstract and a conceptual form based on reasoning.

  • Novel & Creative Thinking

This skill is one of the most demanded skills by almost all the tech savvy organization like Apple, Google, Facebook and so forth. Gone are the days when responsibilities were limited to rote and were based on rules and regulations. Today, we need students to develop proficiency in coming up with solutions beyond our standard and monotonous thinking.

Students naturally are curious about the world around them and want to explore it more. Their imaginations and thoughts are wild and infinite that leads them to formulate endless number of solutions be it practical or impractical in both digital and non digital environments. We just need to encourage them to apply these skills in a creative way that fulfills the purpose that is to develop useful and unique solutions.

  • Social Intelligence & Empathy

The rise of the smart machines and systems are one of the driving forces of the fourth industrial revolution. But when we look at the world through the eyes of these smart machines and data-driven models, it is sometimes difficult for us to see humanity behind these numbers.

As stated by Belinda Parmer, CEO of the Empathy Business:

“Companies will be looking for leaders who are able to help them build the empathy which they have lost – people with a trio of technical, linguistic and mathematical skills.”

It is essential for students to have the ability to connect and interact with others in a deeper and direct way. Even the artificial intelligence robots and machines would not be able to replace those jobs that require positive attitude, resilience and empathy. Therefore, social intelligence and empathy are the utmost necessary skills that students should learn in order to thrive in their future jobs.

Below is the visual chart that is describing some of the crucial skills that are required for work by 2020:

  • Cross Cultural Competency

To keep up with the pace of change, where people and businesses are reaching out, crossing boundaries and mixing with diversified cultures and ethnic backgrounds like never before, therefore, communication and working with people across cultures has become essential. Hence, for students of the 21st century cross cultural competency is highly imperative. It is the ability to develop mutual understanding with people belonging to diversified backgrounds and building human relationships with them in order achieve professional goals.

By adapting this skill, students will not only be effective in interacting with the people belonging to their own culture but will also specialize in interacting with people almost belonging to any culture across the world.

  • New Media Literacy

New media literacy is the skill that will assist students in critically assessing and creating new content for the various digital media forms. With the widespread of the digital media that have created mass global audience around the world, where digital tools have become highly cheap and ubiquitous to use, it is fundamental for the students to understand how to create and use these digital communication tools for persuasion. However, the real challenge for the students is to use this platform without disturbing the equilibrium of credibility.

  • Transdisciplinary

Our problems have become so complex and come at us so fast that only a multi-talented student will transdisciplinary skills will be able to tackle them. Someone who will possess the proficiency to look at the problems from different disciplines and will be able create and integrate new conceptual, methodological and theoretical innovations and will move outside the domain of using specific discipline approaches to decipher a complex problem.

According to World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills that are required for jobs by 2020 are as follow:b4

  • Design Mindset

Key strategy for innovation is to have a design mindset. It is one of the latest skills for future that every student needs to adapt in order to stay ahead from the competition. With the growing computational world and the increase in the super-structured organizations, this ability will help students in developing and representing tasks and work processes in order to achieve desired goals and objectives.

  • Cognitive Load Management

This skill is built on the information processing model (see Figure 1). The theory of cognitive load management suggests that information given to us in pieces which can be managed in a better way and can be adapted more quickly rather than information given in a one-go.


Cognitive load management is being taught by various companies all over the world to its employees. Especially it is assisting managers to design trainings that will reduce the stress on the employees’ learning memory and they will learn in a much effective manner. This skill is imperative for students as it will help them having them ability to disseminate and filter information.

  1. Virtual Collaboration

At this day and age, where we are at the brink of fourth industrial revolution, companies have gone global and have become into super-structured organization. At this point in time, we can’t work in isolation and confusion.  We need to build virtual collaboration teams that are groups of individuals who are dispersed geographically but are connected through technology. This will foster productivity, drive engagement and exhibit the contribution of each team member. This is the skill where students have to focus. They need to learn to work in virtual teams in order to bring the best out of them and prepare themselves for the future.

The transformation from third to fourth industrial revolution will not wait for us to get ready for it. We need to be proactive and take actions beforehand or else we fail to compete in the race for tomorrow. Therefore, today is the time to realize the importance in up-skilling and training our students so that they could achieve advantage from the fourth industrial revolution.