The 2018 Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum

The 2018 Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum
Promoted by The 2018 Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum

Matt Stevens

Matt Stevens

Head of TalentLens UK

Over the next decade, Critical Thinking and complex problem-solving abilities will continue to increase in their relevance as both a core employability and key life skill.

The 2018 Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum has highlighted the pervasive impact that technology will continue to have on the global employment market. We are in the middle of a fourth economic revolution, with machines and algorithms altering the traditional parameters associated with how humans will be expected to perform if they are going to thrive in the workplace of the present and the future. Indeed, a separate report by Dell has found that 85% of roles that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet.

Whilst initially daunting, once considered, this presents an opportunity for business to consider which skills will be most in demand in the coming years. The WEF report identifies analytical thinking, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving as some of the skills which will be of most use within the workplace. There is a trend towards an era of self-directed learning and decision making, which reflects the challenge now laid out for the modern organisation of recruiting people possessing these competencies, upskilling existing employees and ensuring effective technology adoption.

Being able to attract and employ people with the required analytical and critical thinking skillsets will soon become regarded as the holy grail within recruitment. Finding people able to look at a situation from multiple perspectives and make quick and logical decisions, whilst separating facts from opinions, prejudice and assumptions will greatly improve an organisation’s chances of success. These traits are commonly found in people with good to advanced levels of critical thinking ability.

In addition, we live in an era of information overload – one estimate states that we are currently bombarded with around 34 million ‘bits’ of information each day. This is equivalent consuming to two books’ worth of content every 24 hours. Another area which neatly illustrates the requirement for critical thinking ability is that of fake news. As we know, this is a not a new concept at all - merely a topical one. However, as recent scandals highlight, many people find it extremely difficult to separate objective facts from opinions and bias. The question to ask therefore, is how can we cut through the noise and make informed decisions?

Having good common sense has long been a phrase used to describe people who are able to do this. Increasingly, this is now identified as critical thinking ability. However, is measuring candidate ability an effective method of eliciting these skills? To answer this question, I propose to take a quick look at some research conducted by Schmidt and Hunter in 1998 (updated in 2016), which compared the effectiveness vs the popularity of different methods of recruitment. Ability tests were found to be the second most effective measure, behind assessment centres in terms of being able to identify the right people for the job.

Following on from this, other research has shown that critical thinking ability proves itself to be an excellent predictor of job performance in jobs requiring complex decision making and problem solving skills. Executive, managerial and graduate level roles are obvious functions to assess; but as technological advances continue to shift the paradigm, there is a relevance across the employment, education and the societal spectrum.

Critical Thinking Ability draws on one’s fluid intelligence and forms the raw material for several other core workplace competencies – strategic and creative thinking, information gathering and synthesising, analysis, problem-solving and decision making are all influenced by an individual’s aptitude in being able to think critically. By assessing candidates for their ability in this area, organisations will achieve an objective and impartial view of this core general ability, simultaneously enhancing existing recruitment methods, whilst reducing the risk of making bad hires.

We all know people with no formal qualifications who make great life choices. Conversely, we have all come across plenty of extremely well qualified people who make terrible decisions! It is not about the education you have had or how smart you are perceived to be; it is about the decisions you make. Pearson TalentLens offers a measure of critical thinking, called the Watson Glaser which can help you uncover this core skill and improve your organisation’s chances of future success.


Be the first to comment.