Tomorrow’s Jobs Require Fast Thinking

17 May, 2018

Andrew Chamberlain started in his job four years ago at the job search company At that time, he worked in a computer programming language called Stata.

Then, another programming language called R was introduced. Then one called Python. Then PySpark.

Chamberlin's father has been a commercial printer for 30 years. Unlike his father, Chamberlin has had to continually learn new skills.

Chamberlin is now the chief economist for His job is one of the jobs of the future - what some are calling a ever-changing universe of work that requires employees to be critical thinkers and fast to adapt to the new environment.

People training for fields as different as plumbing and aerospace engineering need to learn new technologies and apply their skills quickly and regularly.

When companies hire new workers for entry-level jobs, they are not always looking for knowledge of, for example, a certain software. They might look for soft skills, like problem solving, effective communication and leadership. They also may want candidates who show a willingness to keep learning new skills.

Anthony Carnevale is the director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce in the United States. He said, "The human being's role in the workplace is less to do repetitive things all the time and more to do the non-repetitive tasks that bring new kinds of value."

Students may believe that studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM fields, will easily lead to a good first job.

But, Carnevale said employers are telling colleges: You are producing engineers, but they do not have the skills we need.

Carnevale said, it is "algorithmic thinking" rather than the algorithm itself that is needed in the job market. That means finding new ways to solve a problem is more important than using established steps to do so.

Finding gems

Marie Artim is the vice president of talent acquisition for the car rental company Enterprise Holdings Inc. She looks for possible employees.

Every year, she sets out to hire about 8,500 young people for a management training program. The task requires her to search college campuses across the country.

FILE - Enterprise Rent-A-Car counter employees help a customer at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Jan. 27, 2006. The company looks to hire about 8,500 young people every year for a management training program.
FILE - Enterprise Rent-A-Car counter employees help a customer at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Jan. 27, 2006. The company looks to hire about 8,500 young people every year for a management training program.

Artim and the Enterprise chief executive started in the training program themselves. Her case shows the bright side of renting cars. It also gets the attention of young adults and their parents who might not consider it a good job.

Artim shared some observations about young people today. She said, millennial generation students are used to structured situations. In other words, decisions are made for them. The biggest deficit for this generation, she said, is making decisions by themselves.

To get students ready, some colleges, and even high schools, are working on building critical thinking skills.

One example of this is at the private Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. For three weeks in January, students either get jobs or go on trips. The experience gives them a better sense of what they might do in the future.

University places attention on skills linked to getting a job

Texas State University in San Marcos offers a marketable-skills series of classes. The goal is to prepare students for job interviews.

Companies are increasingly using case studies during job interviews. This means students need to answer hypothetical questions based on a common problem the employer faces. The idea is to show leadership skills in dealing with those problems.

The career office at the university also places a lot of importance on interview skills. Today, that means teaching young people more than writing an effective resume and dressing well.

They have to learn how to perform best on video and phone interviews. Also, they have to learn how to deal with new ways of being chosen for a job. Companies now use ideas like gamification or artificial intelligence bots in their recruiting process.

Norma Guerra Gaier is the director of career services at Texas State. She said her son recently got a job, and he received a phone interview before the final step.

Guerra Gaier said, "He had to solve a couple of problems on a tech system, and was graded on that. He didn't even interface with a human being."

Heidi Soltis-Berner is with Deloitte University. She said companies try to find people who balance technological knowledge and social skills.

Soltis-Berner said she knows what business division young people find jobs in but does not know what they will be doing.

"We build flexibility into that because we know each year there are new skills," she said.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Xiaotong Zhou adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters news report. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

perpetually adv. continuing forever or for a very long time without stopping

adapt v. to change your behavior so that it is easier to live in a particular place or situation

plumbing n. the work of a plumber : the job of installing and repairing sinks, toilets, water pipes, etc.

aerospace n. an industry that deals with travel in and above the Earth's atmosphere and with the production of vehicles used in such travel

algorithmicadj. a set of steps that are followed in order to solve a mathematical problem or to complete a computer process

acquisitionn. the act or process of gaining skill, knowledge, etc

millennialn. a person who was born in the 1980s or 1990s

gamification – n. giving work activities some of the qualities of a game

bot (web robot) n. a program that runs a task or tasks automatically

interface v. to connect or become connected : to connect by means of an interface

flexibility –n. the ability to change and do different things