Do you know which skills are most vital to your professional future? More importantly, do you possess them?
According to the new World Economic Forum (WEF) report, “The Future of Jobs,” the top 10 proficiencies and workforce strategies for 2020 and beyond are
- complex problem-solving
- critical thinking
- people management
- coordinating with others
- emotional intelligence
- judgement and decision-making
- service orientation
- cognitive flexibility.
These findings were derived from chief human resources and strategy officers at leading global employers. The executives were asked about current shifts in business and what they mean for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.
“By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics,” says WEF senior writer Alex Gray. “These developments will transform the way we live and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow, and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace.”
Although AI tackles many challenges that people cannot, machines are less likely to decipher complicated puzzles that are not clearly defined or span multiple industries. This is why complex problem-solving tops the WEF list. Likewise, critical thinking is a strictly human capability that enables us to process, visualize and make connections in a world of ambiguity and nuance.
With the constant influx of new technologies, it’s no wonder that creativity is among the top three skills. “Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans,” Gray explains, adding that negotiation and cognitive flexibility are at the bottom of the list because machines are increasingly making our decisions for us. In fact, 45% of WEF survey respondents believe AI will sit on company boards of directors by 2026.
“The future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace,” Gray writes. “Change won’t wait for us: Business leaders, educators and governments all need to be proactive in upskilling and retraining.”
The next five years
Something I found particularly interesting while reading the WEF report was the comparison between today’s top 10 and the list from just five years ago. While many skills were fairly comparable, others shifted dramatically (creativity). Some appeared for the first time (emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility), and some fell off the list altogether (quality control and active listening).