The Future of Work: Build your own learning plan

I can buy-in to the idea of lean government.

But for that to work, we need people with the right skills, attitudes and motivations. In my experience, an ideal team is comprised of  people who are intrinsically motivated and really enjoy producing high quality work.

What are the skills that everyone needs to create high quality work? And where can we learn these skills when there’s never enough time just to get the work done?

According to Rotman Magazine there are “10 New Skills That Every Worker Needs” by Devin Findler and Marina Gorbis. The article is not online, but there is a recap here on the TechthisWay blog (including the image below). It also resonated with this person who works at Timeraiser, who revealed they were working on a “BIG plan to…provide a number of Canadians the opportunity to gain these digital skills.” This plan is now operational – it’s an internship and training program, and open architecture platform (very cool!).

Computational Thinking, Design Mindset, Cognitive Load Management, New Media Literacy, Transdisciplinarity, Sense Making, Social Intelligence, Novel and adaptive thinking, Cross-Cultural Competency, Virtual Collaboration.

Future Work Skills 2020 via Techthisway

The 10 skills every worker needs, according to the article, are:

  • Computation Thinking <–We are here
  • Design Thinking
  • Cognitive Load Management
  • New Media Literacy
  • Transdisciplinarity
  • Sense Making
  • Social Intelligence
  • Cross-cultural competency
  • Virtual Collaboration

What’s creating the need for these skills? Again, according to the article its:

  • shift towards a computation world
  • new media ecology
  • demographic transformation
  • rise of smart machines and systems
  • globally connected world

Yet, with shrinking budgets and increasing pressure for public servant to perform, perform, perform, it’s difficult to find time for re-skilling.

Over the coming weeks, I will publish a series of blog posts of where and how you can get these skills cheaply, on your own time, whether that be from the office or after hours, and hopefully in a fun and meaningful way with like-minded people. There are amazing resources freely available on iTunesU, podcasts, SlideShare, TED talks and YouTube, and local Meet-Ups, just to name a few. Please add more in the comments if you have other ideas.

Let’s start at the beginning –

1. Computational Thinking

What is it?

“(N)ovice friendly programming languages” which enable us to manipulate our environments & enhance our interactions. Also included here is use of simulations, and understanding algorithms for understanding vast amounts of data.

I’m seeing this more and more in my industry – UX designers are expected to know how to program, artists like Kyle McDonald share and re-use open source code and increasingly code-sharing tools like GitHub are being used for EVERYTHING!

Where can you get this skill?

A quick list to get you started — there are many many more….As you can see from the list, computational thinking is more than programming, although programming is  increasingly expected by a wide range of industries and can help you take matters into your own hands!

Suggested Exercise: Edit a page on a wiki – wikipedia, gcpedia, github wiki…wherever there is a project that is of interest to you.


Stay tuned for more local, public-sector appropriate, resources to help build the “10 New Skills that Every Worker Needs” according to Rotman Magazine.


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About Laura

As a Business Analyst working for the Canadian federal government in Web usability, I have the opportunity to be a part of a growing movement of professionals implementing user-centered design principles.
This entry was posted in Improving the Public Service and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Future of Work: Build your own learning plan

  1. Laura – this series is a great idea!

    I was chatting with friends about Code for Kids and the new ‘languages’ kids should be learning early on – time’s changed.

    We shouldn’t expect our own learning curves to plateau after finishing our schooling. The work environment’s changed so much over the last decade especially and I suspect the continued ‘culture change’ and struggles that come with it that we speak about are partially due to a lack of skills or understanding.

    I do hope folks in Gov will work these sessions into their learning plans and that managers will support their efforts.

    Thanks for kicking this off – I’ll certainly be tuning in to see how/where I can brush up!


  2. Thom Kearney says:

    Right on in so many ways!
    I created a meetup group call PS Learner that might be useful.

  3. Justin (@halfkiwi) says:

    This is a fantastic idea, especially of linking to free or nearly free resources.

    Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to future posts!

  4. Laura says:

    Thanks! More coming soon.

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