In 2020 I did a scan of the research to see what job skills were being touted as most critical. The work formed part of a management development programme I was designing for a team of (already remote) regional managers at a digital bank in South Africa. As it turns out, social skills such as emotional intelligence and teaching others were forecast to be in higher demand than technical skills such as programming or equipment operation and control. This was an interesting finding, and not one that I had expected.
Through the change and remoteness of recent times, we have all had to rethink how we model work and engage employees. And a good year down the line, one thing has become more obvious to me. The companies faring better, from my direct experience, seem to be investing heavily in the ‘soft stuff’, and acknowledging that tech skills are just a base. As you will read below: “specialised capabilities need to be complemented by strong social, creative and collaboration skills.“
Here’s my post from the management development programme. What has been your experience? Is investment in social, creative and collab skills going up, and with what impact?
Job roles and their demands are changing. Companies want employees who can think on their feet, who understand that conditions change all the time and who bring an ability to adapt to meet the demands of unfamiliar environments. Given the advancement of tech and the largescale automation of jobs, agility and new skills requirements are likely to increase in the coming years.
According to Forbes, we need the following skills for the future:
- Emotional intelligence (understand and express emotion, manage own emotions)
- Creativity (boosts innovation, fosters growth, provides competitive edge)
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Data literacy (keeping asking why, figure out where data comes from and how to use it)
- Tech savviness (AI, robotics, IOT, #D printing, blockchain)
The World Economic Forum lists:
- Emotional intelligence
- Complex problem solving
- Judgement and decision making
- Cognitive flexibility
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Co-ordinating with others
- Service orientation
Interesting to note is that according to the World Economic Forum, social skills such as emotional intelligence and teaching others will be in higher demand than technical skills such as programming or equipment operation and control. Jobs that are not killed off by automation will need significantly higher levels of social skills than the manufacturing and factory jobs that once powered the economy. Bank of America has developed a national training programme to assist its employees to show empathy!
Hard skills have a short shelf life, confirms this article on In-demand skills from Inc.com, but strengthening the social and emotional skills of the workforce will never go out of style, and soft skills are more transferable across careers and industries.
‘The prevalence of AI will only make social and emotional skills more necessary and valuable because they are the skills robots can’t automate’.
In summary, technical skills will continue to lay a good foundation for a strong career. But in order to secure career longevity and fulfilment, specialised capabilities need to be complemented by strong social, creative and collaboration skills.