The best skill to learn

A Computer Science student asked: “What is the best skill to learn today? How do I know it will be valuable in the future when technologies are changing fast?

I told him: “If you need only ONE SKILL that is valuable today and in the future then my answer is: “LIFELONG LEARNING.” As long as you are continuously learning, you will never have to worry about technology changes. To live is to learn, you may not need to go back to school to learn but you should learn in every situation. Learning and acting accordingly is the best skill that every students should have.

To know which skills are valuable in the future, you need to understand where technology is progressing and where society is headed. That means you need to read more and stay current with all the changes that are happening in the world. In this technology-driven world, technical skills are good to have but you will need to know what is currently popular and what people are studying now. If too many people are learning a particular skill, the advantage to you of learning that skill will be less valuable unless you are very good at it. You need to be active to identify particular areas that are relatively new with fewer people are learning it so you will have less competition in the future. This also means that either the subject is so new and few people know about it or it is so difficult that most people will not learn it.

For any subject that you are interested in, you will need to learn it thoroughly to develop the critical thinking skill that distinguishes you from others. Do not just read something and think you already know it, this kind of “shallow learning” will not help you much because you will need to apply it to solve problems. You need to learn it deeply not just memorize it, today learning by memorization is no longer valuable. Why waste time to memorize something when you can “Google it” and get the answer almost immediately.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

You may like