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Mark Cuban says this skill will be critical in 10 years, and Elon Musk agrees

CNBC logo CNBC 7/27/2018 Ruth Umoh

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Research shows that one million U.S. jobs are expected to disappear by 2026 and one-third of U.S.workers could be jobless by 2030 — all due to automation.

And workers in the U.S. are ill-prepared for this impending shift, says billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, he warns that jobs that are currently viewed as safe could be displaced in a matter of years.

To remain competitive in the future job market, Cuban says that employees will need one critical skill: the ability to think creatively.

“I personally think there’s going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming,” Cuban tells Bloomberg.

Why? Because when the data is already being “spit out” for you in industries like finance or tech, he says, companies will want employees who are “freer thinkers” and can bring a “different perspective” to the information.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk holds a similar view. When seeking innovative and creative solutions to large scale problems, Musk asks that his employees use the first principles method, in which you boil information down to it's most basic idea and "reason up" from there.

This creative "framework for thinking" requires a substantial amount of mental energy, Musk said in a 2012 interview with the tech-focused video series Foundation. However, it allows you to innovate in leaps and bounds, rather than making small improvements on pre-existing ideas.

Musk again highlighted the first principle strategy at a 2013 TED conference, where he noted that the concept is similar to the methodology used in physics.

"When you want to do something new, you have to apply the physics approach," the billionaire explained. "Physics is really figuring out how to discover new things that are counter intuitive."

Using this creative form of thinking was instrumental in building his companies, Musk added, and he reportedly passed it on to basketball legend Kobe Bryant. In an interview with CNBC, Bryant recalls Musk telling him that anyone can boost their knowledge, "but if you don't have the imagination to then take it to another level, it doesn't mean anything."

As for Cuban, he tells Bloomberg that his warnings may sound “fatalistic,” but we see the "direction everything is going, and how quickly it’s going.” In effect, it’s time for people to start viewing creativity and flexible thinking as a valuable skill.

“Someone’s got to start dealing with this stuff,” says the billionaire. “To me, it’s one of the most critical issues, from a job perspective, that we face.”

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