Due to advances in technology, the landscape of work and jobs has changed significantly in the last 30 years. Some industries have progressed rapidly, while others have declined, which has shifted and disrupted standards of living and career aspirations. As the relationship between virtual and real becomes ever more blurred, how can we prepare for the next 30 years?

On many occasions, Mawlana Hazar Imam has said that in order to keep up with changing times, we must adopt best practice in our professional and academic lives. A key theme of the Diamond Jubilee was an encouragement for Institutions and members of the Jamat to adopt best practice and to strive for excellence in all fields of endeavour.

In 2017, the Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) in Tanzania conducted a research assignment to predict the future of jobs in East Africa. The effort was part of a three-year strategy by AKEB to improve how the Jamat in Tanzania learned, and to envision how young peoples’ future prospects might look like, both locally and internationally. 

Through the study, three essential skills emerged that were evident in all rising industries and job roles:

Logical thinking

As more and more everyday tasks become automated, we will continue to rely on logical thinking to make sense of how it all works, where resources come from, and what the effects are. Logic involves the use of principles to validate reason; it is based on a pattern of cause and effect.

In 2006, Mawlana Hazar Imam was asked by Spiegel about the relationship between Islam and logic. His response was: “The purpose is to understand God’s creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason.”

One way to practice logical thinking is coding. When we learn how something is programmed, we are better able to understand the instructions that are required for it to produce a desired result. Many fields now apply logical thinking in daily routines, including Finance, Communication, and Retail. 

Emotional intelligence

To be “emotionally intelligent” is to be aware of and control one’s own emotions, while engaging empathetically with others around oneself. It involves a deep understanding of context, and why people feel the way they do. 

As the global population increases, communities will be living and working among more people from diverse backgrounds than ever before. Solving problems, regardless of the type of job role, will require more emotional intelligence as society and the economy becomes more globalised and complex. Furthermore, the vast increase in political, economic, and social data will also require us to apply differing perspectives to manage information in an ethical manner.

Members on the Conciliation and Arbitration Board develop strong emotional intelligence skills. The institution has been set up to effectively handle disputes within the Ismaili community. Two of the core values for CAB are to “demonstrate compassion and commitment” and to “be culturally sensitive”. CAB members, as a result, have to practice emotional intelligence in their everyday lives, across domestic and commercial spheres. 

Adaptability to change

Probably the most important skill in any future career journey will be our adaptability to changing circumstances. We no longer live in a world where we are guaranteed work in a field that we studied in. In fact, you have no guarantee that what you learn about today will be valid tomorrow. 

A core value of the Aga Khan Development Network that resonates with adaptability is its focus on multi-input area development. If humanity strives for wellbeing and to be at peace, then this requires not just one solution, but rather a multitude of inputs across industries, including health, education, finance, the environment, and even media.

An example of this in East Africa is the Graduate School of Media and Communications based in Nairobi, which recently launched the Futures Project. The initiative was designed for “promoting innovation, building knowledge, and strengthening the capacity of journalists and media institutions.” At a time where media technology is ubiquitous and media outlets are being questioned about ethics, it’s no wonder that content creators will need new skills to respond, and produce well-informed new forms of media for different audiences. 

A common thread across all three skills listed is their applicability to any future job or assignment, at any level of expertise. If sharpened, they can improve the way we work, open new doors to new vocations, and help prepare us for an even more technically advanced world to come in the next 30 years.