The Skills Employers Will Value Most in the Future

The Skills Employers Will Value Most in the Future

The world of work has never evolved so fast. The skills that today’s children are learning in school may be irrelevant by the time they leave university. For those of us already in the workforce, the concept that we can keep doing what we’ve done until retirement is increasingly archaic.

In fact, a recent survey undertaken by the Australian HR Institute found that 80 per cent of its members think that huge technological changes will affect the working landscape within the next one to 10 years; another 12% think that change is already upon us. It has also been predicted that by 2020, more than one-third of the desired skill sets of most jobs will comprise skills not yet considered crucial today. The move is away from technical skills and towards transferable skills.

In a survey by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand on The Future of Work, business leaders were asked to rate a number of skills for their importance in the future. The result is contained in the image below:

The noticeable aspect of that chart is that very few of the skills named are technical or specific. In fact, they can be divided into three categories: enterprise skills, interpersonal skills and adaptability skills.

Enterprise skills

Enterprise skills are those which relate to your initiative or resourcefulness; that is, whether you are enterprising. Problem solving, which 72% of respondents nominated as very important, is an enterprise skill. Others include decision making, autonomy, creativity and innovation, many of which are particularly useful in a world where new technology is being developed all the time.

Enterprise skills stem from business knowledge and commercial awareness. They are developed through work experience – the more you learn and grow, the greater your business understanding and enterprise skills will be.

Interpersonal skills

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a huge 73% of employers who participated in the Future of Work survey rated communication skills as very important, making it their top required skill for the future. Other related skills such as the ability to build relationships quickly, collaborate and display empathy also ranked highly. People with strong interpersonal skills such as these will always be in strong demand, no matter how many jobs are automated in the future.

Adaptability skills

As the pace of change accelerates, the ability to adapt to it has become increasingly critical. If the only certainty is uncertainty, the future of work will favour those who can accept uncertainty as part of their working life.

Those who have adaptability and agility skills are more likely to be able to roll with the punches and keep up. This applies whether or not they are also able to assimilate new information quickly: just being open to the idea of change is half the skill. Those who can adapt as required will see change not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity for growth or a window into possibilities. They’ll likely be resilient, which assists when coping with change, challenges and stressful periods in their professional life.

A diverse mindset

Something else that rarely comes up on skills and qualities lists is an openness to diversity. However, a similar study across Australia and New Zealand found that 65% of businesses believe that the future of work requires a more inclusive culture. Teams which value diversity and inclusiveness demonstrate enhanced financial performance, with inclusive teams making better business decisions up to 87% of the time.

That has implications for hiring practice, but equally, it has implications for the skill sets of professionals. Anyone who struggles working within a diverse workforce will find those struggles intensify into the future.
While the pace of change may seem daunting to some, it also opens up new horizons and challenges. If you’ve ever worried that you’ll get stuck in the wrong career path, you can see the future of work as an opportunity. Gain enough transferable, future-proofed skills, and the world will be your oyster.

This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article:
Deloitte, Chartered Accountants ANZ, Forbes and Business Insider.

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