Your Letters

Learn new skills to succeed in disruptive future

In the new world of disorder, disruption is not just a warning but also a way of business and life ("Time to learn new skills and update that CV?"; last Sunday).

What has helped our people to achieve success till now may not help them in the future. In fact, past successes may even drive them to preserve the status quo, preventing them from reviewing, redesigning and redeveloping their operational models and competence.

While our people cannot predict and prevent disruptions, they can learn, unlearn and relearn knowledge and skills to ensure a safe, secure and sustainable career.

The challenge is that not many people realise that their jobs are at stake.

What they learnt in school is based on a "factory model" system that was mainly developed for the Industrial Age.

This system focuses on delivering content knowledge, classroom-centric learning, and assessment based on an academic syllabus which may not cover real-life situations and practical skills.

Hence, our people may not be adequately prepared to respond to the fast-changing new economy.

To survive and succeed throughout the disruptive future, they need to develop a passion for learning, have the ability to learn how to learn, and pursue mastery of fluid intelligence and a range of meta-skills.

Meta-skills are skills that are needed in a wide range of environments and can help our people to further develop new knowledge and expertise.

These include skills on divergent, critical and abstract thinking, creativity and innovation, leadership, emotional and cultural intelligence, financial literacy, self-directed learning, and persuasion.

Our people need to also proactively identify gaps that cannot be adequately fulfilled by disruptive forces and add value to these gaps.

For example, disruptive forces may not be able to perform tasks that revolve around leadership, abstract thinking, aesthetic, emotive, personalised and persuasion factors.

Our people should also be mindful that for every task, operation and organisation that is disrupted, new opportunities may be created.

They should prepare themselves to capitalise on these new opportunities.

As they come to grips with disruptive forces, they should put innovation at the core of their plans.

They must become disruptors before they become disrupted. They have to redesign and retool themselves to be pioneers of change and work on changing the workplace and environment for the better.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'Learn new skills to succeed in disruptive future'. Print Edition | Subscribe