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Opinion: Why Innovation is the Most Important Skill to Safeguard Your Future Career

This article is sponsored by Curtin University

It’s no secret: the world is changing faster than ever. 

Technology is advancing rapidly, particularly in artificial intelligence (AI). This has led to the widespread use of AI-driven tools like Amazon’s Alexa, ChatGPT, self-driving cars, and automated financial investing, significantly changing our daily interactions with technology. In a post-pandemic society, the way we work has also changed. Instead of meeting in boardrooms, we meet in chatrooms. For many, the commute to work is now as simple as getting out of bed and turning on their computer.

Innovation is all around us. To ensure a successful career, we need to stay ahead of the curve.

What is innovation?

Before we dive into the importance of innovation in safeguarding our future careers, it’s important that we understand what innovation actually is. 

Innovation is the process of developing new and useful ideas, processes or solutions that help solve problems or replace existing solutions. In essence, innovation is all about out-of-the-box thinking. It’s about finding new and creative ways to enhance our lifestyles and do things more easily and more efficiently. 

Why innovation is a superpower in the workplace

While innovation can immeasurably benefit your career, these are some of the top ways it can help you stand out in the workforce.

Getting a competitive edge

No matter what industry you hope to work in – whether it’s fashion design, digital marketing, law or anything in between – there’s going to be competition. There will always be other candidates applying for the same jobs as well as other businesses vying for the same clients.

The secret to upholding your competitive advantage? Developing an innovative mindset

According to Forbes, innovation can help you “outperform your competitors and become the standout firm in your field.” When you have an innovative mindset, you’ll be able to foresee challenges and opportunities in your field – factors that less innovative competitors won’t see coming. By knowing what to expect, you’ll be better prepared to plan and adapt, to different circumstances. This resilience and adaptability are invaluable skills in the workforce. 

Reframing technology as an opportunity, not a threat

In the digital workforce, it’s not only important to be mindful of other candidates, but also of how technological developments may affect our careers.

When it comes to AI, everyone has a different perspective. Many are worried about the impact such technology will have on their employment prospects. For example, one study found that only 40 per cent of Australians trust AI in the workplace. Another poll found that more than half of young people (aged 18-24) in the UK are fearful over the impact of AI on their jobs.

On the other hand, many see this technology as a way to boost productivity and streamline processes. With the help of AI, you can spend less time doing administration, brainstorming, note-taking and a wide range of other tasks. You’ll then be left with more time for creativity and innovation. 

Although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it’s never been more important to leverage these technologies – because they aren’t going away any time soon

When you embrace innovative thinking, you’ll be better able to let go of your hesitation and embrace curiosity around AI. Instead of worrying, you’ll ask how these systems work and what role they can play in your everyday life. You’ll also be more open to experimentation; by trying out new technologies and finding ways to use them, you’ll become savvier and more adaptable as they continue to evolve in future years. 

Read more: Why Study Innovation in Australia?

Innovation is founded in creativity 

Innovation and creativity are closely intertwined, especially when it comes to creative problem-solving. When you enhance your innovation skills, you’re inherently sharpening your ability to approach challenges with a creative mindset. Similarly, when you encourage creativity – for instance, by practising brainstorming or seeking diverse experiences – it can result in coming up with new and unique solutions or ways of looking at things, which is the essence of innovation.

This is a hugely important step when it comes to safeguarding your future career because creativity is – and will continue to be – one of the most sought-after skills in the workforce: according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), creative thinking is perceived by employers to be the most increasingly important skill candidates can have, with over 73 per cent of surveyed employers saying it’s growing in importance. 

As seen in the table below, creative thinking outranked a number of other skills, including analytical thinking, technological literacy; and curiosity and lifelong learning.

Source: World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2023

Creativity also feeds into a person’s ability to problem-solve, collaborate with others and inspire others. These skill sets can be applied in any sector, but they’re especially key in roles that need new ideas and different viewpoints.

While the future can never be certain, one thing is for sure: by prioritising your sense of innovation, you’ll protect your professional success for years to come.

Gain the skills you need to develop your sense of innovation by studying a Bachelor of Innovation at Curtin University. With its integration of the World Economic Forum’s non-negotiable skills for the 21st century and its multidisciplinary approach, this course is the perfect steppingstone to a successful and sustainable career. 

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