What skills should we be developing in our people know for their future success at work?

Published by Tony Small

4 October, 2022

There is a significant amount of research available in the public domain that investigates and analyses the skills that employers seek most in their newly hired employees. This research provides invaluable intelligence for L&D operations in terms of targeting their budget for internal learning and development, and talent teams will do their best to acquire these skills from the external workforce. 

Recently, I was reading some insightful research that was published in 2016 by the World Economic Forum. It was about the future of jobs in the context of the fourth industrial revolution, and it was very interesting. The WEF polled 350 business leaders from 9 different sectors across 15 of the world's most developed economies. The findings of the report make for very interesting reading, and in this section, I will summarise the headlines in terms of predictions for the top 10 skill sets that employers are looking for in potential employees in the 2020s.

The top ten, listed in reverse order, are as follows:

No. 10: Cognitive Flexibility. The capacity to think about a number of different ideas all at once and the ability to multitask mentally. Creativity, logical reasoning, and problem sensitivity will all be essential components of the foundational skill set that will be required.

No. 9: Negotiation Skills. The social skills necessary to negotiate with other people and come to a consensus with them.

No. 8: Service orientation skills. The capacity to discover new ways to assist one another.

No. 7: Judgement and decision making. The structured capability to analyse data and arrive at decisions that are optimal.

No. 6: Emotional Intelligence. To be conscious of the responses of other people and the reasons behind the responses they give.

No. 5: Team work. To be able to participate in a group effort and adapt one's behaviour in response to the actions of others.

No. 4: People Management. to have the ability to inspire and cultivate others, as well as to recognise who the most qualified candidates are for a position.

No. 3: Creativity. Being able to apply new technology to the creation of new products and services.

No. 2: Critical thinking. To be able to identify the benefits and drawbacks of potential solutions through the application of logic and reason.

No. 1: Complex problem solving. According to the report, this is still the most important skill, and it is forecast that complex problem-solving abilities will be required as a core competency for 36 percent of all jobs across all industries.