Ep 81 The Top Workforce Skills to Focus On For 2024

blog Dec 13, 2023

In episode 81, I share the top in-demand skills you should focus on related to the Top 8 Future of Work Trends for 2024.

You're listening to the remote work retirement show. I'm your host, Camille Attell, and this is the only show that helps semi-retirees figure out their remote work options. I believe that remote work is the new retirement plan and that many retirees have both the ability and desire to work how they want so they can live how they want. Let's dig into today's episode....

Welcome back. Today we are going to dig deeper into our future of work topic and talk about the top skills that you need to know, or at least focus on for 2024. As a reminder in episode 80, which is the one right before this, I introduced the top eight future of work predictions or trends to look for in 2024.

So, in the episodes this month, we'll go deeper into that main topic, and we'll tackle it from a different angle each time in each episode. Now if you haven't listened to episode 80 yet, it's okay. Because what I plan to do in today's episode is springboard off that to talk about the skills. But I'm going to do this in a way that I think is different than how other people are talking about skills.

Look let's get real. People who work in my field, we're all talking about the same stuff. We're all talking about predictions and the trends and the skills and the things you need to know. So, to make this different, I think, than maybe what you're hearing or reading from anyone else, I want to take the skills today and I'm going to link them to each trend that I talked about in episode 80.

So again, you can listen to episode 80, of course. I'd love you to do that. But you don't have to, because I will start by recapping the eight predictions or trends that you should look for in 2024. And then I'm going to come back around, and I will talk about what does this really mean in terms of the skills that you should either have or you should start developing. So, let me talk about the eight predictions or trends.

First, number one is artificial intelligence. Number two will impact jobs because of artificial intelligence. Number three is up-skilling or re-skilling in artificial intelligence. Number four is all about sustainability. Number five is more remote work. However, last week I talked about how the phrase will change to the workforce ecosystem. Number six is workplace culture, number seven, is employee well-being, and number eight, diversifying your sources of income. All right. So, let's loop back up to the top of the list and tackle artificial intelligence. So, what are the skills that you need to be able to become more proficient in AI? And I want to start by saying you don't need to be an expert. You don't need to go back to school for four years. You don't need a degree.

And I would caution you against doing any of those things because AI is at a point right now where it's changing very rapidly. And if you think you're going to go back to school and get some sort of fancy degree in it, you're likely wasting your money. I would give it a little bit more time. But here's what you do need to know.

You have to be what's called AI literate. You have to understand the basics and at least have a fundamental understanding of some of the concepts related to AI. So, when you hear terms like machine learning and artificial intelligence and large language models, you should basically know what they are if people throw out the names of certain platforms like chatGPT or Bard or Bing or Grammarly or Canva or gosh, I could go on and on. This would be a whole episode of me just naming things. When people name some of those platforms you should know generally what they're talking about right? You want to picture it like you're traveling to a different country, and you should at least know the basics to get around. Like where do I find the bathroom?

That I think is the number one skill that everyone, no matter what they're going to do for work needs. I don't care if it's remote work. I don't care if it's in an office. I don't care if it's pumping gas at a gas station. It doesn't matter. AI is essentially seeping into everything, and you need to be able to speak the language enough. Okay. So, what do you do? It wouldn't hurt to attend some online training. There are a number of free ones out there. I post a bunch all the time. You could take some workshops. There's a ton of YouTube videos. I mean, you could just open a chat GPT account and start playing with it. And that would probably be enough to get going. So, the skill, once again, is AI literacy. It's really important. Don't overlook it.

Now let's get into number two on our trends list, which is the impacts to jobs because of AI. So, what are the skills that you need to be able to, I guess I should say, withstand the impact on jobs. Because you know, perhaps your job could get impacted. It is not out of the realm of possibility that you could get laid off. I'm not trying to scare you. I'm not saying that's going to happen. I mean, the job market is still actually very strong and very healthy, but what should, you know, what should you do? Number one, you really need to be flexible. And you need to be adaptable, be open to change.

Things are going to change. It doesn't mean jobs will necessarily be cut. But maybe the jobs will change. I talked about this a lot last week. How you do work will change. People who work in different industries may be impacted by new AI systems, and new AI technologies. People may be working a lot alongside chatbots and not only humans. And so you've got to go into that with being very flexible, knowing that change is going to happen, being open to change. Dare I say, being kind of excited about it. Maybe not as excited as me, but excited enough.

And here's another thing, another skill that will go a long way. And that is being a lifelong learner. It's worth mentioning that now more than ever, it's important to be someone who embraces lifelong learning or continuous learning, and just making sure that you're doing enough to stay relevant. Maybe that's playing with a new tool or new software. Again, chatGPT is a great place to start. But another really fun tool that I don't talk about enough and I should, is Canva, c a n v a. In the AI Skillet program that I'm running, which is my AI lab program, we're doing a lot with Canva. Canva has so many amazing AI features and the folks in that program are making really cool images and using a lot of the AI features to come up with ideas and it's just fun. We're having a lot of fun. So, the reason why we're able to have fun is because we're exposing ourselves to new things every day.

Just a little bit, 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and just seeing what happens. It's kind of like saying to yourself, what happens when I push that button? And then just being open to whatever it is. So again, when we talk about the trend of the impacts on jobs, whether jobs will change or go away, the skills you need would be things like flexibility, adaptability, and lifelong learning.

Let's talk about the trend or the prediction I have around people really needing to up-skill or re-skill specifically in AI. Now you could choose to up-skill in anything. I have lots of people inside of Remote Work School who are in other programs because maybe they want to learn to be a copywriter. Now at this phase of life, they want to, you know, go in a new career direction or maybe they're learning how to become a project manager and they're upskilling and all of these other niches, I guess we'll call it. They still need to upskill in AI because again, a copywriter needs to know how to use AI in copywriting.

A project manager needs to know how to use AI as it relates to managing projects. So, what do you do? What are the skills you actually need to keep up with this particular trend? What you need is to be able to learn the technical changes to what you're already doing. So yes, you could certainly go out and gain new technical skills, but I want you to think more about what I am already using today and how has it been impacted? So how do I upskill or reskill on those technical changes? And that includes understanding how AI is also impacting the software tool or platform you're currently using. For example, if you're using a platform to write documents, like Microsoft Word. How are you integrating AI into Microsoft Word? Or Excel, instead of doing things in Excel, the old way, how are you integrating AI or how has it been integrated into Excel? And are you keeping up with those changes?

I've had to do this all year. I use so many different platforms to run my business. And AI has been introduced on almost all of those platforms. And I'm just trying to learn as much as I can because in the end, knowing the AI actually makes my work go faster. Now, if you are looking to upskill in AI and you want to do it with me, I have a couple of options. Number one, you could join Remote Work School. In Remote Work School, I don't necessarily teach AI, but we're playing with AI a lot in our live Coaching Circles. That's where I coach, and we do things like resume reviews and LinkedIn, profile optimization and business plans, and things like that.

I also have the AI Skillet, which is the lab program I just mentioned. But I have been kind of going back and forth on whether or not I'm going to relaunch it. Instead, what I'm doing is I'm kind of taking a few steps back and I'm introducing a new program called the AI Starter Kit which is a little bit more of baby stepping into AI. Whereas in the AI Skillet, we're literally jumping into the frying pan with AI and it's fun, but you kind of have to have a certain kind of attitude to do it. And I'm finding that most people are really intimidated. So, the AI Starter Kit is something I'll probably relaunch in early 2024. So, if you want to get on my email list and hear more about it, you can click the link at the bottom of the show notes, or just go to camilleattell.com and click on the free training button.

Our fourth trend or prediction is all-around sustainability. So, we're going to pivot away from AI here for just a moment. I talked quite a bit about the trend of sustainability in episode 80. So, I don't want to rehash it all over again, but it's pretty broad. It covers everything from sustainable environmental practices to business practices and even local community practices. It could include diversity, equity, and inclusion. It could include wages.

I feel like there's a lot under this umbrella. So, this one's a little harder to tell you what skill you actually should focus on. So, I'll tell you that the easiest way to talk about this is to just have an awareness around sustainability and how the company that you work for, may be doing around sustainability, and then how that might impact what you do in your job. So, some really easy examples would be shifting away from paper-based mailers, for example, to going digital. It could be doing less with transporting things places, and maybe instead having a digital product instead of a physical product. It could also include things like making sure that you have equitable wages.

This is something I've been doing actually in my business because what I want to sustain are the people who work with me in my business. And so, I'm always looking at well, what does the marketplace say I should pay people? What can I do to make sure that I have, you know, healthy wage growth? That's a form of sustainability.

So, there isn't a particular skill other than having an awareness of how this might impact you in your job. And then maybe just thinking about it a little bit more. Is there something you do in your job today that maybe you could tweak slightly so that it's better for the earth, better for people, better for the community, or maybe even just better for you?

Number five is the trend around more remote work, but we're going to see a shift in what's called the workforce ecosystem. This one's more about how a workforce is made up of a lot of different types of workers. Part-time workers, gig workers, full-time workers, oversee workers, et cetera. So, what are the skills related to this particular trend? Number one hands down would be digital communication skills. Because you're probably meeting on zoom or Skype or Microsoft Teams. Or maybe you're using a project management tool like Asana or maybe you're using a tool to communicate. Slack is a very popular one.

And so really understanding how to navigate really well with these tools. This is another one where digital literacy is really important. Being able to know what tool you're using when and for what? And I have to tell you, that one is not the easiest. When I first started working remotely and people threw a bunch of tools at me like, oh yeah, sign onto Slack and go into Asana and open this tab. It was like, I don't even know what these people are saying much less how to use any of this stuff. So, what I would encourage you to do is sign up for some of those tools and start self-teaching again. They're not that hard. It's just that if you're new to them, you might feel a little bit lost. I would say if you're going to pick one, pick Zoom or Microsoft Teams because those are the ones that a lot of companies use. And just get very proficient at it. Learn how to log on quickly. Learn if your microphone is on or off, and figure out how to turn your camera on or off.

Also, learn how to read a virtual room. You know, like when should you speak, when should you not speak? When should you make eye contact? Or when should you not make eye contact? I mean, think about the days when you used to be in person and in an actual physical room. All those communication skills are important in a physical room. And they're just as important, if not more important when you meet virtually. And I'm not saying you need to be perfect. Again, you need to be proficient enough to be able to get on a meeting and know your way around.

Number six is workplace culture, and that's all about the culture really being impacted because of this workforce ecosystem. And so, the skills around the culture, I think are a couple of things. Number one, expanding your cultural awareness because you might again be working with people in different countries, people in different time zones. It's not like the office where you used to walk in and y'all worked together and you maybe sat together, and you worked in the same time zone and maybe you all spoke the same language.

Well, it's different now. And so just having enough awareness. I'm not saying you have to be super skilled at all of that, but you need to at least be aware that there might be some cultural differences. But more important than that is really knowing how to work with change. I mean, I could say learning how to work with change might be the number one skill on the list after AI, because change is just happening constantly. And so just being able to sort of roll with the punches. You know, for example, maybe yesterday on the job you were working with someone, we'll call this someone Sally, and you and Sally worked together on a project. And then tomorrow you show up to work (by the way, show up means virtually because again, in my world, that means remotely) and instead, Sally’s been relocated to a different department. And in her place is a chatbot. Right. You might be working alongside a chatbot. You need to make sure that doesn't throw you off. You don't want to throw your arms up in the air and complain and ask around what happened. I mean, I'm not saying don't care about Sally. What I am saying is you have to be a person who is adaptable and flexible and who knows how to embrace change. Those are the skills you really need to focus on related to the trend of the impact on workplace culture.

Number seven on our list is employee wellbeing. I talked last week about how, you know, people have been very impacted by working remotely. There's a lot of isolation and loneliness. And we're seeing more of an effort from companies to put awareness and programs around this so we're more around mental health, more around employee wellbeing. Honestly, the skill you should adopt most would be around self-care and making sure that you're prioritizing your own health, whether that be physical, mental, or emotional. And you should do that no matter what the company you work for does, or if you're running your own business. I highly, highly encourage you to do this.

I will share with you a little bit about how I was impacted, and how my mental health was impacted. Around 2019, 2020, 2021 into 2022, it snuck up on me. I had some physical changes that resulted in a compromise of my health, my overall health, my physical health, and my mental ability to do work. And then eventually that just turned into depression and anxiety, like big, big time. And what was so weird about it is it was sort of like that boiling frog thing. You know, you've heard about that, where you put a frog in warm water, and if you slowly, this is horrible, but you like slowly dial up the heat and then the frog just boils to death.

I know awful, awful stuff. For me, that's what depression was like. It was like, I didn't even know it was happening until one day it was really, really terrible. And then I knew, I was like, oh, okay. I know what's going on here. And that's the point at which I was like, well, I better start taking care of myself. I feel very grateful that I took better care of myself when I did. So, look, I don't want to get on a soap box and this is not a podcast about mental health or self-care, but I think it's really important that I acknowledge that this is a problem, a big problem in our country and anywhere else. And because I have personally experienced it. I need to speak about it.

And so, I want to make sure that if anyone is listening and is feeling like I did, alone, isolated, and kind of like scared, then it's time for you to really take back control and do things that are really healthy. For some people that might be as simple as journaling or taking a walk, eating better, getting better sleep meeting with friends, and doing activities. For other people, it might be therapy or medication. And for other people, 988 is a crisis hotline that was established in the last year or so. So prioritize yourself. That's really the big message.

Let's move into our last trend on the list and that is diversifying income sources. This one is all about being smart. About making sure that you have not just plan A, but you have plan B and maybe even plan C. So, this week maybe it looks like you have a job, but it might be that, you know, you might not have a job in a couple of years. Maybe you're on your way to retirement. Maybe, you know, you're getting downsized. Maybe you're losing hours. So, figuring out what can you do now to start up-skilling and re-skilling and getting ready to earn income in new ways, whether that's taking a different job or taking a side job or starting a side business, et cetera.

So, what kind of skills do you need for this? Really anything on this list, right? Re-skilling or up-skilling in AI, learning how to be adaptable, learning how to be flexible, having an open mind, being a lifelong learner, maybe dabbling in learning some new technical skills. But really, I think this is so important and really underrated, and that is good financial management. And I'm not going to preach here because I was terrible at financial management, almost my whole life.

My way of dealing with financial management was just always making sure I had a job that paid me enough money. Okay. That's not a very good plan cause what if you lose that job? So now I have really in the last couple of years, really focused on what's my budget. How much do I have coming in? How much is going out?

And I've been forced into this because I run a business. And you just cannot run a business if you don't have good financial management or financial literacy. Now, inside of Remote Work School, we have really great resources around us. We have a really slick spreadsheet that my husband actually built, and he's a financial wizard. It walks you through exactly how much money you need to make doing different types of jobs. Everything from having full-time employment, part-time employment, gig employment, freelance business, et cetera. It does calculations for you, it shows you all right, this is what you need to charge. So if you are looking for a tool like that, hey, I invite you to join Remote Work School. I'll put a link for Remote Work School in the show notes as well because, of course, I'd love to have you in there.

So, there you go. I just gave you the eight trends for 2024 once again, and I talked about a variety of skills. Let me just recap some of the skills. AI literacy gotta be number one on your list. And I'm also going to put change, being adaptable, and embracing change. I'm going to move that higher up on the list. It is really important that you just stay open, you know, be flexible, be adaptable, be open to change. Also, remember lifelong learning. And along with lifelong learning is just dabbling in some new technologies and keeping your skills fresh. Make sure that you have an awareness of some of the sustainability practices for either the company you work for or the business that you run. Definitely put a focus on those digital communication skills. Be aware of the way that the culture is changing perhaps in your workplace. Make sure you're following some good self-care practices. And finally, maybe do a little bit around financial management. If you do plan to diversify your income sources, especially if you plan to go into business for yourself, or if you're already running a business.

All right. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Next time we're going to talk about what are some new ways that you can earn income with these new skills. We'll see you then.

If you're looking to get back into the workforce, change jobs, work remotely, or learn artificial intelligence, check out my free remote work training so you can get ahead of the trends and stay ahead of the pack, click the link in the show notes, or go to www.camilleattell.com and press the free training button.

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