This year’s World Economic Forum’s Future of Work report brings together the perspectives of 803 companies – collectively employing more than 11.3 million workers – across 27 industry clusters and 45 economies from all world regions. These businesses report on their expectations and importance of skills to their workers in the next five years.
“Much like the world of work has changed in the last few years, so to has the way businesses approach their customer base. Businesses are getting creative in the products, services and solutions they provide and there is a higher reliance on technology,” says Michelle Mullen, Director, Professional – Eastern Canada, Agilus. “This leads to employers favouring candidates with technological literacy and those who can think creatively and critically. In an ever-changing landscape, employees who prove themselves to develop and grow alongside these changes, will see greater opportunity.”
Here is a list of skills and attitudes that are increasingly recognized as essential for individuals to thrive in a rapidly changing and technologically advanced work environment:
- Creative thinking
73.2% of businesses report that creative thinking is growing in importance. According to Forbes, the ability to think creatively will hold great value, particularly as we delegate routine responsibilities to automated systems. The capacity for imaginative thinking, encompassing the generation of fresh concepts, resolving problems, envisioning possibilities beyond existing norms, and effectively executing ideas to address issues and enhance circumstances, will assume pivotal significance in the future workplace.
- Analytical thinking
In the current landscape dominated by fake news, social media echo chambers, and an overwhelming influx of information, 71.6% of businesses reported that fostering analytical thinking skills has become paramount for achieving success. It involves examining problems and circumstances through the lens of evidence rather than relying on rumors, personal viewpoints, or prejudices.
- Technological literacy
Technology literacy is a term used to describe an individual’s ability to assess, acquire and communicate information in a fully digital environment. Almost 68 percent of WEF’s responders stressed that in an increasingly automated work environment, individuals must also be equipped to harness those tools proficiently.
According to the statement from Aneesh Raman, VP of LinkedIn’s Opportunity Project, the current reality is that every company, regardless of their awareness, falls into the category of either being a technology company or a company that benefits from technology. As a result, digital skills have become increasingly significant across various job roles. Whether it involves proficiency in utilizing specific software or showcasing the capacity to swiftly learn and embrace the latest tools, such as ChatGPT, to enhance productivity in one’s role, employers value individuals who display a proactive attitude towards learning and strive to maintain their digital skills.
- Curiosity and lifelong learning
Regardless of age or industry, it is essential to embrace a mindset of continuous learning to thrive in the future workplace. Cultivating curiosity and a commitment to lifelong learning was important to 66.8% of surveyed employers as it enables individuals to remain adaptable, embrace change, and ensure their skills remain up-to-date amidst the significant transformations in today’s world. By nurturing a growth mindset and igniting a genuine desire to learn, individuals can enhance their relevance to employers and increase their chances of building a successful and fulfilling life.
- Resilience, flexibility and agility
In the future work environment, being receptive to change will have an even greater impact compared to the present. Humans will consistently face the challenges posed by new technologies, increasing automation, the ever-changing pace of work, and significant disruptions in the business landscape. It is imperative for all of us to cultivate mental resilience to flourish amidst continuous change. Agile individuals possess an open-minded approach, curiosity, and a willingness to acquire new knowledge quickly. These attitudes were important to 65.8% of surveyed employees by WEF.
- Systems thinking
Systems thinking is a way of understanding and analyzing complex systems by considering the interrelationships between their components. It involves viewing a system as a whole, rather than focusing solely on its individual parts, and recognizing that changes or actions within one part can have ripple effects throughout the entire system. Almost 60% of WEF’s survey respondents reported growing importance in this skill.
- AI and big data
AI and big data are closely interconnected and often go hand in hand. Big data refers to the vast amounts of structured and unstructured data that are generated from various sources such as social media, sensors, transactions, and more. AI, on the other hand, is a field of computer science that focuses on creating intelligent machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI encompasses a range of techniques, including machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and more.
Dataeconomy.com predicts that big data and artificial intelligence will transform a range on industries including healthcare, autonomous vehicle development, smart assistant development, industrial automation systems, etc. 59.5% of companies in WEF report stress the importance of acquiring these skills.
- Motivation and self-awareness
Motivation and self-awareness are highly valued traits by employers surveyed by WEF (58.9%). Employers recognize that motivated and self-aware individuals are more likely to contribute positively to the workplace, display resilience in the face of challenges, and demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow. These qualities are often associated with higher levels of engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction, making them highly desirable traits for employers when building a successful and harmonious team.
- Talent management
Effective leadership and talent management involve unlocking the potential of individuals and fostering an environment where they can flourish. It is a misconception to think that these skills are solely required by those in higher positions. The evolving dynamics of distributed teams, growing diversity, the gig economy, and flexible organizational structures have made leadership skills essential for individuals at all levels within a company. Whether managing a project, a team, or an entire department, cultivating leadership abilities has become crucial for every individual to navigate and succeed in today’s professional landscape. More than 56% of Future of Work survey respondents listed talent management as growing core skill needed in the workplace.
- Service orientation and customer service
Service orientation refers to the mindset and approach of prioritizing and delivering excellent service to customers or clients. It involves understanding and anticipating the needs and expectations of customers, and consistently striving to meet or exceed them. Both service orientation and customer service are critical to 54.8% of respondents as they prioritize building and maintaining strong relationships with customers, fostering loyalty, and enhancing the reputation and success of a business.
“While these 10 skills and attitudes will be important for job seekers and employees now and in the next 5 years, there is also a need for individuals who can build strong personal relationships, grow professional network, and keep strong managerial references,” says Devin Cameron, Director, Delivery – Ontario Technology, Agilus. “In the growing age of AI and Automation, these attributes will always put you at the top of the list in a job search and through the interview process. The human element will always be the final differentiator to employers looking to grow their businesses with great people.”
Based on the Future of Work report, employers will favour individuals who can adapt, innovate, collaborate, and provide exceptional customer service. Embracing these skills and mindsets will not only enable individuals to succeed but also contribute to the overall success and competitiveness of organizations in the future. It is crucial for individuals to proactively develop and nurture these skills to remain relevant, valuable, and adaptable in the evolving landscape of work.
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