The start of a new year is one of the best times to take stock of your career and embrace a little change. Because if we learned anything in the past decade, it’s that the job market is changing quickly.
Many of the skills that guaranteed employment even five years ago have evolved, been automated, or replaced. While it’s true that many of these new jobs involve technology, there are also plenty of non-technical skills employers are actively hiring for that might surprise you.
Ultimately, the key to success in the upcoming decade involves having a learning mindset. Regardless of the industry you work in, learning on the job is becoming more and more important. According to a 2019 study on the future of work, 92 percent of employees reported that the ability to learn new skills while working in a role makes them more motivated and engaged in their work. This means that employers also have a lot to gain by providing learning opportunities in the workplace.
If you are looking for a good place to start, be sure to check out our full list of online courses and professional certificates that draw on all ten of the marketable skills we are most excited about for 2020.
1. Flexible Thinking
Similar to having a learning mindset, the ability to think flexibly is going to be one of the most important skills in 2020. Though it might seem like an intangible skill to learn, there are techniques like Design Thinking that provide an iterative framework for more flexible thinking. By actively challenging the way we think, it is possible to reframe problems into potential solutions.
2. Data Visualization
The way we use data to make and inform decisions is rapidly changing. Learning how to use tools like Excel and Tableau to help tell the right story is often just as important as compiling the data itself. Whether you work with big data or manage smaller projects, our Data Visualization Using Excel and Tableau course will teach you the basics to make your data more clear and compelling.
The buzz around blockchain is everywhere. Though many people might associate it with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain is a highly-dynamic technology that has the potential to impact the security and speed of business across industries. In fact, a recent survey from Deloitte showed that 86 percent of those who responded believed that the future of blockchain is both scalable and will eventually be adopted into the mainstream. Even if you aren’t interested in the technical side of blockchain, learning the basics of how it works in a business contest will give you a major advantage in the coming years.
Every successful team draws on creativity for inspiration and innovation. Whether you consider yourself to be creative or not, you can always challenge yourself to think more creatively and try new things. This year, experiment with new modes of creativity or dedicate time to working on a creative portfolio that will give your resume a boost.
This might seem like an obvious one, but in a world with ever-shrinking attention spans, the ability to focus and complete tasks is invaluable. In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport explores all the intricacies of attention and how we generate high-quality work. Essentially, it comes down to our ability to train our minds to focus, as Newport writes, “Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.” By working on this skill in 2020, you will undoubtedly see a positive effect in all of your work.
6. Cross-Platform Communication
We know that communication will always top the list as one of the most valued skills in a workplace—but with so many different ways to communicate (email, phone, instant messenger, text), it takes nuance and practice to be able to make your point clearly. By being more mindful about how to best communicate on each platform, you will be able to be more effective and cut out frustration with coworkers.
7. Augmented Reality
The popularity of augmented reality (AR) features like Instagram face filters and apps like Pokémon GO has officially pushed AR into mainstream use. Companies are quickly investing in talented people with the right skills. Spending for AR/VR was set to increase 68 percent in 2019, and more jobs are opening in AR every day. Columbia Online students can get ahead by earning an Augmented and Virtual Reality Professional Certificate, which gives you the skills you need to create a robust portfolio of AR projects.
8. Swift Coding
It’s no secret that knowing how to code is a huge asset in almost any career today, but it can be hard to know where to start. As Apple’s official coding language, Swift was designed to be easy to learn and implement for beginners. It is also a programming language that is ideal for mobile app development. Our Foundations of Swift Coding and iOS online course teaches the basics of the dynamic language through hands-on projects.
9. User-Centered Design
The way we create and build and market products is changing. Companies are increasingly looking for employees with user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design skills who know how to put the user at the center of the development process. This skill requires both a shift of perspective and a new process for getting to know your audience. To learn more about how you can learn these skills online, check out our 8-week UX/UI Design Essentials course.
Though the definition may change, the skill of leadership will never go out of style. Being a strong leader means learning how to balance short-term decisions with long-term vision. By learning how to listen to coworkers and collaborate confidently, leadership will be a natural outcome.
Whether you want to level up in your career or switch careers entirely, 2020 is going to be the decade of on-the-job learning. Constantly developing a wide range of both soft and hard skills is the best way you can future-proof your career.
Not sure where to start? Enrolling in an online course or professional certificate can give you the motivation and structure you need to learn in-demand skills on your own schedule. Online terms begin every 8 weeks, giving you plenty of opportunities to sharpen your skills throughout the year.