The Most In-Demand Skills for the Next Decade
It's more important now than ever for both companies and individuals to think about the skills needed to ensure they stay relevant in the future of work.
When you see or hear the words “work”, “future”, and “skills”, what comes to mind? We live in an age of unparalleled progress catalysed by the rapid expansion of tech in every part of our lives. This has led to a monumental shift in the how, where, when and with whom we work – making it more important now than ever for both companies and individuals to think about the skills needed to ensure they stay relevant now and well into the future of work.
With that in mind, here are our top 10 most in-demand skills for the workforce of the future. These are the critical hard and soft skills that organisations need to succeed in the coming decade.
1. Digital Literacy
It comes as no surprise that digital literacy occupies the topmost spot on this list. Given that we are experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where virtual and physical systems work in tandem with each other, employers want professionals who can easily navigate the digital workspace. This involves using software, apps and devices seamlessly and safely and understanding the role mainstream technology has to play in daily life. To future-proof your workforce, invest in talent with digital skills.
2. Data Analysis
Digital literacy goes hand in hand with its data counterpart — data analysis. With more available data than ever before, organisations need skilled talent who can make sense of it to give them a competitive edge. They need people with strong analysis skills to identify and extract relevant data from different sources, analyse and interpret it, communicating the insights meaningfully so they can be implemented to improve the organisation and its operations. As data increasingly becomes one of a company’s most important assets, data analysis skills will only grow in significance.
3. Technological Skills
A basic level of technological proficiency is necessary to navigate today’s digital workplace, but to keep up with disruptive innovations, it is no secret that ‘hard’ tech skills are paramount. Skills like software development, cloud computing, cybersecurity, web development, artificial intelligence and machine learning are highlighted among those in top demand in reports by LinkedIn, Upwork and Adobe. More and more, organisations are looking to automate their processes, tighten their security, make data-driven decisions and improve their services. They need people with the right tech skills that will get them ahead of the curve and keep them there.
Technical skills are vital for today’s workplace, but it’s the soft skills that will ensure long-term success. The mother of all soft skills, leadership is often misconstrued as a skill for occupants of C-suite roles. However, when you understand it as a function of influence, it is easy to see it as a requisite skill for people at all levels of an organisation. Whether or not someone is in the role of people management, there will always be opportunities to influence the behaviour of team members or lead the delivery of projects or products. As more organisations adopt remote and hybrid working styles, employees are also expected to exhibit leadership skills by managing themselves. It’s essential for employers to have freelance talent and employees who take charge of their work and their environment.
5. Emotional Intelligence
Just like leadership skills, one of the most critical sets of soft skills for the workplace is Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI). According to Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, in a nutshell, is the ability to manage your emotions and the emotions of the people around you. EQ is characterised by five attributes, each complementing the next: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Professionals who possess these attributes continue to be highly in-demand.
6. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking involves objective analysis and evaluation of a situation without being swayed by biases and prejudices. In an era where a plethora of information is available literally at our fingertips, being able to sift through this information and draw insightful conclusions for effective decision-making is an essential skill. It provides employers with trust and credibility, and in a future that depends on technology, information, and innovation, critical thinking is crucial.
Considered a sister skill of critical thinking, problem-solving involves a wide array of attributes needed to thrive. It encompasses active listening, creativity, analysis, communication and decision-making. Obstacles, both planned and unforeseen, are inevitable in every workplace. Therefore, employers and managers need people with the ability to quickly identify these obstacles and find the best possible solution to minimise risk. Problem-solving skills also allow teams to plan ahead and prevent similar problems from arising in the future.
8. Lifelong Learning
Many people believe that learning ends after school. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, we never stop learning. To embrace change and remain flexible in a rapidly shifting world, adopting an open and curious mindset is critical. Hiring people with a growth mindset, who remain committed to sharpening their skillset, is key.
In the new world of work, change is the only constant. Such an extreme magnitude of conversion and constant evolution requires the ability to adapt to any environment and navigate new challenges with grit. More than ever, employers need to rely on freelance talent and employees who can adapt with ease.
Last but certainly not least, collaboration and teamwork are essential soft skills for the future of work. Every task requires some level of collaboration — from completing a project to analysing data. Collaboration builds good foundations for communication, relationship-building, leadership and compromise, whether virtually or in-person. These are the proficiencies that will continue to be in-demand, and it’s vital for employers to equip their teams with talent who possess these skills.
Hiring for the Future of Work
Are you hiring people with the right skills to thrive in the new world of work? As part of the African Leadership Group, The ROOM is connected to an innovative ecosystem that invests in the training and development of its talent, cultivating soft skills — such as leadership, ethics, teamwork, communication, project management, and critical thinking — along with the most in-demand digital and technical skills. Find out how you can tap into The ROOM’s community of agile problem solvers and digital leaders for the 21st century.
The ROOM is proud to connect companies across the globe with highly trained, hand-picked talent who are equipped with the in-demand skills of the future.