Future Skills Update and Literature Review

This paper explores the work skills that will be needed in the future and the ways in which educational institutions will need to more fully integrate them into workforce training.

Devin Fidler
Susanna Williams (ed)
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Institute for the Future
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type

This Future Skills report is a comprehensive literature review that highlights the kinds of skills that will allow people to be successful in the future. It is designed to explore the universe of future skills, as well as the ways that they are currently taught and measured, in the hope that they can be more fully integrated into workforce training and evaluation. It is organized around the four skill categories developed by the National Network of Business and Industry Associations (National Network).

  • Personal Skills: Treating others with respect, demonstrating a willingness to work and seek out new challenges, exhibiting responsibility and adaptability, and demonstrating professionalism.
  • People Skills: The ability to work effectively with others, to maintain open lines of communication, and to work effectively with other people who have diverse backgrounds.
  • Applied Knowledge: A range of abilities including understanding written documents, clear written communication, mathematical literacy, ability to use both the scientific method and information technologies, to critical thinking and analysis.
  • Workplace Skills: Planning and organizing, problem solving, decision making, business fundamentals, customer focus and working with tools and technologies.

The report provides an industry-defined road map for educators and other learning providers to follow in planning educational programs.

What the experts say

As adult education operationalizes its mandate to provide Integrated Education and Training (IET) models that include adult education and literacy and workforce preparation activities, this updated assessment of the success skills needed now and in the future is a great reference for classroom teachers and professional developers. Grounded in research and best practice, the skills address challenges such as resilience, new media literacy, cultural competency, and cognitive load.

The organization of the “skills” into four categories provides a way for a practitioner to apply a great deal of research in an education setting. It helps instructors think about how adults can acquire or develop a particular skill and how that skill might be assessed and evaluated. It also helps them bring meta-cognition into their classroom by helping adults develop self-assessment tools for these critical life and work skills. Program administrators can encourage analysis of existing IET and other transition-focused adult education programming for inclusion of the key success skills defined in this report.

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