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Rethinking Work Skills for the Future

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Understanding the future of work

​The changing nature of work is a growing concern. Technological innovation, automation, big data, and demographic changes such as longevity are leading to substantial disruption across industry sectors.

There is an urgent need for a better understanding of future work skills and how they develop.

MAPNet: Overview

We introduce the MAPNet approach to explain the deep structure of work tasks. The MAPNet approach allows organisations to identify the multitude of skills and activities that are fundamental for enabling success in uncertain and interdependent work environments.


The MAPNet framework details key skills required for employees and organisations to be successful for the future of work.


Foundation Skills:


The foundation of MAPNet is the concept of mastery; the ability to perform core tasks with a high level of proficiency.

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Network Skills:

Local Networks

Team work in local networks allows individuals to achieve something greater than their individual capabilities through utilising a network of skills and abilities.

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Transformational Skills:


Adaptivity involves adjusting
oneself and reconfiguring responses in a changing environment. Through adaptivity, people apply their current knowledge and skills to new situations that are more diverse and more complex than the ones they have previously encountered.

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Networked Skills:

Complex Networks​

Modern work often requires a complex network of skills achieved through multiteam systems. Multiteam systems are defined as when two or more teams work interdependently towards shared goals.


Transformational Skills:


Proactivity is a set of self-starting, action oriented behaviours that change the situation or oneself to
improve personal or organisational effectiveness. Two types of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) have been noted as key to proactivity; a thorough understanding of one’s work (job-related KSAs) and context relevant knowledge.

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Integration Skills:

Transformational Networks​

The above skills do not function in isolation and high performance is achieved when individuals integrate transformational and network skills.

Developing and supporting the MAPNet skills

The key conditions and systems that are needed to develop and
support the MAPNet skills are:

  • Work design

  • Motivation

  • Teams

  • Selection and training

  • Leadership

To support and develop the MAPNet skills, adaption in these areas are usually required at the organisation level. However, there are also a number of opportunities for individuals to
engage their own sense of agency in preparing for the future of work.

What is driving the change in work?​

Governments, organisations, and communities are grappling with the demands of future work. We have reviewed the key trends that demand new
ways of thinking about skills and work requirements.

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Building blocks for the future

We have defined some of the most commonly noted key abilities, which we suggest as the building blocks of future skills, as outlined by the MAPNet framework:

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem solving

  • Collaboration and communication

  • Creativity and Innovation

  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) / Technical literacy

  • Foundational skills and STEM

In sum, the Future of Work Institute’s MAPNet framework argues for a systematic understanding of the future of work skills and their development in order to realise the growing possibilities across broad sections of our society. MAPNet provides a new way of thinking about skill and lifelong learning based on the deep structure of work activities.

Project Lead

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Mark Griffin

Project team also includes:

Melissa Chapman, Katrina Hosszu, Megan Orchard, Sharon Parker, Karina Jorritsma, Marylene Gagne, Patrick Dunlop

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