What Kind of Competencies Will Tomorrow’s Workforce Need?

As the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt, businesses are presented with additional obstacles in the field of talent acquisition. We are exploring these challenges through Emerging Talent Competitions.

Since the advent of digital technologies, there has been a significant shift in our approach to business. It is clear that we must develop new skills and capabilities to fully leverage these changes. However, we have yet to fully define the specific talents and abilities that will be required in this new environment.

It is feasible that we possess some theories, suppositions, and educated guesses as to who they could be, but we cannot be certain. This is especially so in the current climate, as the world is currently facing a crisis brought about by the pandemic, which has had a detrimental effect on the commercial environment. To stay ahead of the game, people need to rapidly adapt to new technologies, such as automation, AI, and robotic solutions, which have become increasingly popular due to COVID-19.

It is understandable that both employers and employees are curious about what skills and talents will be required in the coming years. This presents a challenge, but although it is not possible to predict definitively what will be needed, it is possible to make informed guesses, using certain indicators.

Recognizing Primacy in Competencies

It is widely recognized that problem solving, analysis, presentation, collaboration, time management, computer literacy and data literacy are essential skills for employers in the modern workplace. Therefore, it is likely that individuals have the capability to identify at least two of these abilities that might be invaluable in the foreseeable future.

It is clear that a number of skills will remain relevant in the future, however, it is not beneficial to define these skills in such a general way. Evaluation of critical thinking skills is difficult and teaching someone to become a better team player is a challenge. Furthermore, it is unclear what should be learnt when it comes to programming.

It is clear that there is a range of views on how to identify and enhance core skills. Therefore, it is essential to accurately define the skills we will require in the new reality. To begin, it is necessary to gain an understanding of how the environment is changing.

It is increasingly apparent that we are living in a time of digital acceleration. Contemporary organizations are thus adopting new technologies and digital solutions at a rapid rate in order to bolster their agility, flexibility and resilience. These three characteristics are essential for contemporary organizations as they help them to better respond to ever-shifting requirements and challenges.

Due to the rise of digitalization, companies are increasingly adopting mechanized solutions, Artificial Intelligence algorithms, cloud servers and data science tools. The combination of these technologies has significant implications for the nature of a range of professions. If certain tasks can now be automated or carried out by robots, what can human workers offer in order to add value?

The value of human contributions is highlighted when considering the capabilities of automated and intelligent systems. These systems can quickly analyze large amounts of data, detect patterns and suggest insights; however, it is up to people to take these ideas further and discover the truly beneficial next steps.

It is essential that individuals develop skills that are tailored to the purpose of digital solutions. This helps us to identify the talents that will be necessary in the future. However, this alone is not sufficient for the needs of the workforce.

In order to fully understand the situation, we need to consider other key factors. In order for employees to fully understand and utilize digital solutions, they must possess a certain level of digital literacy. As the corporate landscape is increasingly reliant on digital solutions, it is essential for employees to be competent in this area.

It is clear that the new normal necessitates a certain degree of adaptability and agility from both organizations and individuals. The landscape can shift quickly due to the emergence of new technology, trends, crises and players, and so it is essential that organizations and employees alike have the ability to remain flexible and responsive to these changes. Having a flexible attitude will be an essential skill for future employees.

Narrowing Down Abilities for the New Normal

From the points I have outlined so far, it is clear that any skill which helps individuals create value, navigate the digital environment and respond to new challenges and expectations is essential in the modern world. However, this statement is still quite general and does not provide a clear definition. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the nature of these abilities in more detail.

Firstly, let us examine the capabilities that may be beneficial in the businesses of the future. Our starting point should be the skills we currently consider essential, as we are already appreciating that modern employment requires technical, social, emotional and higher cognitive capabilities rather than physical and basic cognitive ones.

By utilizing the talents we currently view as essential, we can further enhance them. This will enable us to identify which specific competencies can lead to broader skills. Although this is not an exhaustive list, some of the key talents of today include critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, leadership and digital literacy.

It is clear that the workforce of the future must develop a range of smaller, more intricate skills in order to be successful. Therefore, let us examine the types of abilities that can be derived from these.

  • Doing some sleuthing or thinking critically.

    It is often assumed that logical thinking alone is sufficient to address a particular issue; however, critical thinking goes beyond this, encompassing formal problem-solving and reasoning, as well as the ability to identify relevant information, recognize biases, and make connections.
  • Communication.

    Effective communication is essential for success in any professional setting. Beyond simply being able to articulate ideas verbally and in writing, other skills such as storytelling, synthesis, active listening and questioning are also necessary in order to communicate effectively. Developing and honing these skills is essential for success in the future.
  • Creativity.

    It can be challenging to accurately define creativity, however, important skills associated with it include the ability to think from different perspectives and analyze data from a variety of sources. Creativity also requires a combination of imagination, curiosity and adaptability.
  • Teamwork

    The ability to work collaboratively with others requires a range of skills and qualities, such as empathy, inclusiveness, cooperation, dispute resolution, coaching, empowerment and negotiation. These all play an important role in enabling effective communication and mutual understanding between individuals in any situation.
  • Leadership.

    It could be argued that not everyone needs leadership skills to be successful in the corporate world. However, having a certain level of leadership ability could help individuals to better adjust to the post-pandemic workplace. This is due to the fact that leadership involves characteristics such as honesty, self-motivation, decisiveness, autonomy, optimism, persistence and the ability to deal with ambiguity, all of which can be beneficial in a variety of situations.
  • Digital competence.

    We have reached the broadest skill set of all – digital competence. This implies that employees must be knowledgeable in regards to the latest digital technology, including digital and data literacy, programming, cybersecurity, digital learning and digital ethics.

I acknowledge that not all of the mentioned qualities are abilities. In fact, some may be experienced as attitudes, making their development more of a process of personal growth than professional training. Nevertheless, these qualities will become increasingly important in the workplace of the future.

It can be daunting for corporate leaders to equip their employees with the necessary combination of talents and abilities to ensure their success in the future. However, these skills should be viewed as an opportunity for growth rather than a burden to overcome. Leaders and their teams should strive to reach this horizon.

By identifying which abilities are essential for future success, you can create training programmes which are valuable and relevant to reskill and upskill your team members. It may seem like a challenge, but accepting this is the only way to move forward and adapt to the current situation.

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