What job skills does it take to succeed, now and in the future? It’s the million dollar question, of course – and one to which the World Economic Forum (WEF) reckons it might just have the answer. As we all know, the world is changing, and changing fast. Machine learning. Artificial intelligence. Augmented reality. Buzzwords today, perhaps, but an unerring finger to where the future leads. For those looking to stay ahead of the curve, here are the ten job skills the WEF reckons are going to lead the pack in 2020, taken straight from its report on The Future Of Jobs. Let’s get to it!
1. Complex problem solving
Complex problems rarely have a fixed solution or approach, and call on all of our best qualities as human beings – critical thinking, innovation and creativity, the ability to assess, adapt, and calibrate as we go. People pay money to get solutions to problems, and it’s no surprise that this quality tops the job skills list.
2. Critical thinking
I’ll admit, this is one that rather delights me, given that this is precisely what I want to encourage on this site. Critical thinkers have the edge, not only in making the life choices that are right for them, but also because the ability to think critically and thereby drive solutions is such an important part of business and work life as well.
We have all this technology at our disposal, but without creative minds to find new applications and new paths, we’ll never get anywhere at all. Creativity is valued in the career sense because it is disruptive – that is to say, it has the power to open up new approaches that have never even been considered before.
4. People management
Following on from the big 3 job skills, people management is another crucial one. These days, work most often means working in a team – and not just a team, but often multidisciplinary teams scattered all around the globe. Managing differing personalities and approaches and directing them towards a shared outcome is key to getting things done.
5. Coordinating with others
This is a job skill very much related to people management, but stems from the appreciation that work is not done in isolation. Breakthroughs these days involve teams of people with different skills and backgrounds, and I think that realizing this fact is crucial to being successful in the workplace.
6. Emotional intelligence
I think that emotional intelligence is probably an underrated asset as one of those more intangible “soft” skills. As technology continues to advance, however, and takes on more and more of the work formerly undertaken manually, having that emotional intelligence that a machine does not will become more and more of a sought after job skill.
7. Judgment and decision making
This is an important one going forwards. Again, technology is going to become more and more prevalent in our day-to-day lives and that is going to throw up questions of judgment and even ethics. When and where do we trust machines, and to what extent? Where do we prioritise our attention and resources, and where do we delegate instead? Having the balanced judgment to make these decisions will be crucial in the future.
8. Service orientation
The trend I see here is the trend towards personalization and tailoring. People don’t necessarily want generic, one size fits all solutions anymore – manufacturing and technology have advanced to the point where companies are able to offer their customers a much more personal service, and a large point of interest in the future will be ensuring that those customer needs are met as precisely as possible even at an individual level.
I can see that negotiation, charisma and, particularly, persuasion are all important job skills. Business is always going to be conducted by people, and there is always going to be a place for someone who is highly skilled at dealing with others.
10. Cognitive flexibility
The way I view this one is in terms of lifelong learning. As we said before, the pace of change at the moment, technological and otherwise, is breathtaking, which means that we can never afford to sit still. Rather, we need to be constantly learning and adapting to our new environment, because only that way can we hope to stay abreast of developments and remain equipped in a changing world.
That brings us to the end of our list of top 10 job skills – I hope you appreciated it. I think that these are exciting times to live and work despite the undeniable challenges and change ahead. How about you? What do you think are the most important skills on the list? Is there anything you think is missing? Let me know, and best of luck getting ahead in the world of work!
Cambridge graduate. Writer and thinker. Life enthusiast.