Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are wielding increasing influence on many day-to-day roles, with the recent rise of generative AI putting even more industries in the spotlight.
In fact, it’s hard to remember a time when the place of humans within the future workplace has been more uncertain.
While no-one can confidently predict what role generative AI will play in future, what we are certain of is that the skills possessed by today’s workforce cannot keep pace with present and future demands of work.
An uncertain future?
As such, it’s projected that we will need to reskill 1 billion people by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum.
Today’s employment market is already complex.
We’re in the midst of an extremely challenging economic period, and employers everywhere are facing a growing schism between their job requirements, and the skill sets that both internal and external applicants actually offer.
It’s hard to remember a time when the place of humans within the future workplace has been more uncertain
Mind the gap
In the last few years, it’s been hard to escape headlines shouting about that growing digital skills gap.
And reading those articles, you might think we should focus all upskilling efforts on digital and technical skills.
But after analysing 21 million job ads around the world, we beg to differ.
Employers everywhere are facing a growing schism between their job requirements, and the skill sets that both internal and external applicants actually offer
The power of human skills
Our Pearson Skills Outlook reveals that it’s actually both human and technical skills that power the global economy, with human skills dominating the power skills that employers seek today.
While technical skills are, of course, vitally important, innately interpersonal qualities are highly prized as businesses prioritise transferable traits that are applicable to multiple roles, and make employees more rounded and adaptable.
It’s actually both human and technical skills that power the global economy, with human skills dominating
Communication, collaboration and a desire to learn
The analysis of in-demand and trending skills shows that as of today, demand for communication, customer service, leadership, attention to detail and collaboration remains high.
That’s all well and good, you might think to yourself. Surely that’s likely to change soon.
Technology is everywhere, right? And demand for technical skills will surely grow as new tools gain mainstream adoption, and automation across supply chains pushes the world’s citizens towards knowledge work?
Well, we looked into that. Our AI-based modelling also allows us to project how the automation of certain tasks, and the augmentation of others – in other words, where technology complements human capabilities – will affect the nature of work in the future, and which abilities are likely to be needed.
Innately interpersonal qualities are highly prized as businesses prioritise transferable traits
The outlook for automation
Contrary to popular expectation, it revealed a similar outlook to the one employers hold today.
Yes, demand for technical skills will grow. But uniquely human skills like personal learning, collaboration and cultural intelligence will continue to be the most sought-after by employers. So what does this mean for HR professionals?
Demand for communication, customer service, leadership, attention to detail and collaboration remains high
1. Strike a balance between the technical and human
That might seem counterintuitive, when you consider the pace at which technology is evolving.
It seems there’s a new skill to learn every week, and given the rate at which new innovations are now introduced, services and platforms that not long ago were deemed new can quickly become obsolete.
In fact, that pace of change is precisely why businesses need people who’re able to learn, collaborate, and empathise to succeed.
Uniquely human skills like personal learning, collaboration and cultural intelligence will continue to be the most sought-after by employers
Getting the balance right
These skills remain evergreen, and will continue to be consistently applicable even as new technologies come and go.
Employers need to concentrate their efforts on striking that unique balance between technical and human skills; making space for the latter without slowing down progress on the former will see the biggest rewards for staff and employers alike.
That pace of change is precisely why businesses need people who’re able to learn, collaborate, and empathise to succeed
2. Ensure your people are equipped to succeed
Learning and development (L&D) teams need to be at the forefront of this shift to re-write the skills script.
Revising their strategies to invest in technical accreditations alongside, not in lieu of, programmes that cultivate human ‘power skills’ at all levels of experience, seniority and expertise.
Employers need to concentrate their efforts on striking that unique balance between technical and human skills
A future-proof workforce
Those that succeed in embedding that approach can then look to proactively future-proof their workforce by identifying skills gaps between current roles that have excess supply and diminishing demand, and target roles which are projected to be under-resourced or in high demand in future, creating learning pathways to transition workers from one role to another.
It’s a powerful way to upskill existing employees and ensure recruitment’s efforts are focused on targeting the best new talent, rather than filling holes in the workforce as they open up.
With so much at stake, businesses can’t delay their plan for reskilling
3. Set a foundation for data-driven success
Combining these approaches with insights that map skills to content and credentials should support a more informed approach to skill development, with organisations able to create a robust, repeatable framework for upskilling, reskilling, and credentialing staff, able to make better decisions about which to invest in and develop.
Shortening the time it takes to re-and-upskill employees also promises to improve organisations’ ability to adapt to changing economic circumstances, all using better employee data.
Now is the time to rewrite the script
With so much at stake, businesses can’t delay their plan for reskilling.
The road to 2030 isn’t a long one anymore. The economy relies – and will continue to rely – heavily on people skills and rapidly changing technologies, swift investment is urgently needed to ensure individual employees and their employers have what they need to survive.
It’s those that are ready to rewrite the skills script to help their people build the transferable, flexible capabilities uncovered by our report that will thrive.
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