Evolve or Drop by the Wayside: Do you have the Skills for the 2020 Marketplace?

Depending upon whom you choose to listen to or which research you believe its forecast that up to a third of jobs today wont exist by 2020. Its not that jobs will just evaporate but the roles themselves will change.

The rapid rate of change of the workplace means employers will be seeking employees with a range of different skills than they do today.

A report released in January 2016 called “The Future of Jobs”, by the World Economic Forum forecasts on average over one third of the skill sets of most occupations will require skills that are not yet considered vital for the role in today’s marketplace.

The report, surveyed over 350 employers in nine different industries across 15 of the world’s leading economies. The results of which were used to predict how technological advancements would challenge labour markets to evolve and how employers and employees will need to evolve to adapt to the workplace of 2020 and beyond.

Intrigued if you have what it takes to cut it in 2020? Here’s a countdown of the predicted top 10 skill sets that will be in demand by 2020.

10. Cognitive Flexibility / Agility

Cognitive flexibility means that you are able to consider multiple concepts simultaneously. You may know it as agility, another term gaining notoriety currently. In a business context, agility is the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways and consequently requires employees that can also cope with rapid change.

More than just a ‘buzzword’ it wasn't considered a skill in demand in 2015, but is certainly on employer’s radar as 2020 approaches. 

9. Ability to Negotiate

Contrary to the predictions of science fiction and other futurists, social skills are expected to become increasingly important in the workforce. Whilst it’s easy to see that automation and robotics are replacing repetitive and laborious jobs its not hard to imagine that eventually services such as Siri and Cortana will replace many functions and even jobs in service oriented roles. Right now though they are not yet intuitively ‘human’. Social skills are still something that, for now, are uniquely human. 

The report forecasts that by 2020, negotiation skills will be in high demand for the arts, commercial and industrial design, computer and mathematical roles, such as data analysts and software developers etc.

8. Customer Service / Service Orientation Skills

Customer service or Service orientation is a subset of social skills mentioned previously. It’s defined in the report as actively looking for ways to help others.

As companies such as Amazon, Apple, Zappos and American Express set the bar ever higher for their customer service, often referred to as customer experience, this rising tide lifts all boats. That is to say that customer expectations are rising and all industries require increased service orientation skills for both internal and external customers.

7. Judgment and Decision-Making.

The report defines this particular skill set as a "system skill". As the capability and willingness of organizations to collect more data, there’s going to be an increasing need for employees that possess the ability to analyse data and use it to make decisions. This in combination with service orientation skills mentioned in number 8 means that leaders and managers at all levels will have to sharpen their decision-making skills to adapt to the rigours of social decisions (People management and human related circumstances etc.) as well as analytical or data driven decisions.

6. Emotional Intelligence.

As mentioned in point number 9, robots may be able to do a lot of jobs, but they still can't read people the way another human can. Well perhaps not yet, anyway. This is why it’s going to be desirable for employees to have a greater level of emotional intelligence. Simply put, the ability to interpret and understand peoples’ reactions and respond accordingly.

5. Collaborate and Coordinate

This is essentially a collision of all previous points/skills coming together to produce an employee that works seamlessly with others.

4. People Management

People management entails being able identify the right people for the right job, manage teams or groups of individuals, motivate people, develop employees and generally be attuned to the intersecting needs of the organisation and the individuals it employs. The report also points to gender diversity as a major influencing factor in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Tapping into the female talent pool is increasingly regarded as a prominent and promising area for workforce planning. More than a quarter of companies surveyed identified female talent as a key feature of future workforce strategy. Overall, 53% of respondents perceived promoting women’s participation as a priority item on their organization’s senior leadership’s agenda.

3. Creativity

Due to the tsunami of new technologies, creative people will be in high demand. In the age of the ‘Start-Up’ and the ability for something as simple as a phone ‘App’ to change the way people go about their daily lives or disrupt an already existing industry (Think Uber and AirBnB etc.) or more complex areas such as the privatisation of space (think Space X and Virgin Galactic), people who can visualise new technology or ways to apply existing technology to create new products or services are going to be highly prized employees.

2. Critical Thinking Ability.

Logic and reasoning has always been a valuable asset. As companies collect more data and technology and engineering become evermore complex, the ability to identify strengths and weaknesses of different solutions is a skill that will still be needed. Computers can ‘crunch the numbers’ but it will still take critical thinking abilities to consider the data and how best to make use of it.

1. Complex Problem Solving Skills

The most in demand in 2015 and the report cites that it will remain the number one most desired skill in 2020. The ability to observe, interpret, analyse and problem-solve, is the most desirable skill set for 36% of all jobs across all industries. The ability to face and deal with novel (unique or never encountered before) problems is a skill set that will ensure that the future is rewarding for you.