With skills requirements and skills gaps increasing at an alarming rate—alongside technology continuously changing jobs—employers are expected to adjust to the ever-changing state of work. Preparing for the future of work is crucial. Hence, employers need to know which skills to look out for, assess their current employees for, and develop programs using innovative internal talent development.
The following are 10 top future-proof skills that employers should emphasize when building an internal talent development or learning program, using challenge-based learning methods.
1. Problem solving
Among various expert opinions and studies, problem solving is one of the most sought-after and future-proof skills today. Employers need employees they can rely on to solve unforeseen challenges that inevitably arise in the workplace. Moreover, problem-solving employees are efficient decision-makers and take the initiative to help the company when they can confidently and calmly tackle problems head-on. In the future of work, problem solving will continue to be of importance. Not only is it a skill that cannot be replaced by automation, but it is also a skill that suits the ever-changing nature of the world. As new problems emerge in the workplace, from future technology and workplace practices, problem-solvers will be able to overcome these challenges for the good of the company.
It is increasingly clear: the future is creative. The world is already progressing to more open-minded, diverse approaches to work—and society in general—and, as such, creativity is at the forefront of future-proof skills. LinkedIn reported that the top in-demand soft skill of 2020 is creativity. Global studies support the notion that creativity is a top skill today across a broad range of sectors and will continue to be so in the future of work, as suggested by growing industries and jobs today as well as employers’ experiences with the current job market.
3. Critical thinking
Critical thinking involves careful observation and analysis in order to make thoughtful, informed conclusions. Although automated technology can analyze facts and data to produce a conclusion, only a human employee can understand the facts as they exist in a real-world, tangible, human context. As such, critical thinking is a top in-demand skill and will continue to be so. Critical thinking may also go hand in hand with creative thinking in order to innovate original yet logical solutions—this makes critical thinking even more vital heading into the future of work.
LinkedIn reports that persuasion is the second most in-demand soft skill in 2020. Persuasion skills involve interpersonal strength in building meaningful relationships, self-confidence, and effective communication. The interpersonal element ensures that persuasion will continue to be an essential skill in the future of work when automation rises. Persuasion is also a skill that is universal to every industry, making it an invaluable skill to hone in a competitive job market.
5. Digital literacy
Digital literacy refers to one’s working knowledge of technology and one’s ability to efficiently, strategically leverage technology for various purposes. This skill set is not just useful simply because of advancing technology, but also because digital literacy supports innovation for organizational growth. Digitally literate employees can use technology to their advantage to create something novel that will drive the success of the organization.
Communication is one of the most widely sought skills, both written and verbal. In fact, more than half of employers globally believe that communication is the most critical soft skill needed in the workforce. Studies consistently show that general communication skills are not only lacking in today’s workforce but will continue to be vital moving into the future. Moreover, it is important to note that communication also encompasses essential special skills like negotiation and conflict resolution, which solve everyday workplace challenges and support the comprehensive team’s success. Universal to every industry and arguably every job title, communication is and will continue to be a vital skill that employees should hone in order to foster organizational success.
Closely intertwined with communication is collaboration. It is widely recognized that collaboration skills are critical to companies’ success and growth and also in demand today. Collaboration skills include teamwork, project management, leadership, conflict management, decision-making, and more. Successful collaboration requires a set of soft skills that are lacking in the job market today. Thus, collaboration in the workplace can and should be improved internally to prepare for the future of work. Companies should prioritize collaboration as one of the most essential workplace skills to promote continuous growth and success.
8. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence involves essential domains like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. These domains are future-proof because they cannot be replaced by automation and are crucial in everyday workplace relations. Moreover, emotional intelligence is often essential for effective decision-making, in that profoundly understanding human emotion will aid in making decisions that depend upon others. Employers should recognize the power of emotional intelligence, as it can easily be overlooked as an inherent intelligence that humans share—in reality, it is a critical ingredient in individual and organizational success and an ingredient that few workers possess.
In accordance with collaboration is leadership. Organizations need strong leaders to guide the path to success, especially in navigating the path into the future of work. Leaders can confidently make decisions for the good of the team, manage individual employees and collaborative projects, and take the initiative to innovate big ideas. Leadership is also a set of skills that should be prioritized when building an internal talent development plan, not just for managers and formal leaders, but also for the general team because leadership skills are universally valuable for all team members. A team of leaders is one that can produce results efficiently, collaborate harmoniously, and innovate continuously.
Lastly, the future of work needs employees who are adaptable, simply because the world is ever-changing, and the job market is changing with it. Employers need employees who can adapt to new technologies and systems to progress the company’s success continuously. Moreover, adaptability is a skill that applies to unpredictable changes in the workplace or the ability to deal with failures—adaptable people are resourceful with their ideas and decisions. They can deal with change as it comes.
Employers need to be aware of the most essential skills that they need not only today but tomorrow too. The above 10 future-proof skills are all skills that need to be considered moving into the future of work. Employers must implement strategic internal development that emphasizes essential skills like problem solving, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. Investing in challenge-based learning strategies will pay off with a confident, highly skilled workforce prepared to take on whatever real-world challenges that the future may bring.