Critical thinking is a skill that jobs of the future are calling for. A job of the future is one where there is increased demand, as opposed to jobs of the past which are facing reduced demand. Based on an analysis of 4.2 million job postings from 2012 to 2015 in Australia, a study from the Foundation of Young Australians shared two important discoveries:
- Jobs mentioning problem solving as a skill were being paid $7,745 more per year
- There is an increase in 158% of jobs requiring critical thinking.
What is critical thinking?
Forming views and thoughts in a careful and deliberate manner. It involves you discovering and considering evidence as part of forming your opinion on something.
- An opinion based on critical thinking will give you a position that is stronger and will stand up better to argument.
How it helps you
Critical thinking allows you to develop opinions based on a stronger understanding of an issue, but this does not mean you have to have strong opinions. The opinions you have, whatever they might be, are resilient because they’re based on careful consideration of evidence.
- Critical thinking based opinions stand up to reason well and help you be better able to persuade others.
The added bonus of critical thinking is that it can help you learn more effectively. When you’re using critical thinking, you’re evaluating information around you to develop an understanding about something.
- If you start to practice critical thinking regularly, don’t be surprised if you notice an increase of your abilities around thinking and learning.
What it isn’t
Critical thinking isn’t something you can do quickly. If you rush you’re most likely using pre-judgement, emotion or some other way at arriving at your conclusion. While experience will indicate good approaches for certain situations, every situation will be different, and you need to look out for these differences.
- There is no template you can use to perform critical thinking, especially not quickly.
How you’re already using it
You’re probably already using critical thinking, whether or not you recognise it, this still probably means you can improve how you do, but it’s good if you already have some familiarity with it.
Imagine you needed to purchase a new laptop, there are many to choose from, and they all have different features. You probably know what you want to achieve with your new laptop, maybe it’s for your study or your work. Looking at the different laptops’ features then actively evaluating how they will help you achieve what you need from a laptop is critical thinking.
If you have to mount a shelf on a wall, you might need critical thinking to evaluate what kind of screws best suited the wall you were mounting to because brick and plaster walls need to be worked with differently. Also, will sunlight or other forms of wear be an issue, so do you need to paint the shelf to protect it?
If you’re trying to design something, be that software, a machine, or a garment of clothing, you’ll need to use critical thinking to make sure that your item is able to perform well under the circumstances it will operate.
How to do it more
Critical thinking is a skill, and because it’s one that requires some effort on your part, you need to become more aware of situations which give you the choice to use it or not.
A simple way of choosing to use critical thinking more often is to become curious and ask why about more things you come across. This doesn’t mean you have to openly question everything people say to you, it might mean quietly thinking about what they have said, and deconstructing it while looking for valid evidence for and against their claim.
- Your attitude is important, you need to choose to use critical thinking.
Is it disrespectful to question people?
No, if done carefully, or even just to yourself, questioning something or someone does not have to be disrespectful at all. This is an interesting issue because there are many cultures which discourage younger people questioning those more experienced.
- In Australian and other western cultures, appropriately asked questions are not disrespectful.
Why employers want this skill
Employers want critical thinking because it is proof that you’re able to think clearly in unclear situations. This means that you’re more likely to know how to use your own initiative and think about problems as they come up without always needing to ask what to do. If you consider the increases of automation, and what that means for jobs of the future, the kinds of jobs that are increasing in demand have people who are doing tasks that technology can’t automate.
- Critical thinking is one of those important skills that can’t be automated and this why the demand for is it on the rise.
Are your skills easy or hard to automate?
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to learn more about critical thinking can help you. Check out our leadership program Learn Lead Thrive, we focus on a number of important skills of the future such as critical thinking, problem solving and many others.
- Learn Lead Thrive has been designed to help you get your first job and start your career.