Skill Set for Success: The TOP 10 skills for candidates to possess by 2020

Technological advancement is the hot topic of the moment, and our employment landscape is undergoing rapid changes because of it. It goes without saying that such changes are affecting the nature of the jobs we do, and as such candidates are required to adapt their skill set. A recent survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF), The Future of Jobs, draws attention to which skills are becoming more important in the face of technological advancement in the workplace.

And the consensus is clear; 350 employers across 15 industries agreed on a set of 10 skills which are to be the most highly sought after by employers come the end of the decade.


Man VS Machine

Whilst many workers may feel threatened by the introduction of new technologies into the workplace, the fact remains that technology is not yet able to replicate human beings. It is clear that  artificial intelligence cannot yet mimic emotion and social skills, which are the foundations of a productive and successful organisation. The ability to build and maintain relationships and detect and react to the different behaviours of others remain capabilities unique to the human race. Therefore skills falling under this umbrella will continue to increase in importance, with candidates being required to demonstrate advanced 1) Emotional Intelligence.

Furthermore, employers recognise the importance of working together and supporting each other in the workplace, which is highlighted through the demand for 2) Coordination Skills and 3) Service Orientation or actively seeking to aid others. These two skills are vital for a workforce to remain collaborative, flexible and sensitive whilst adapting to rapidly changing surroundings.

Unsurprisingly, candidates who have excellent 4) People Management skills will be highly attractive to employers. Whilst so much is being done to develop new technologies and introduce them to the workplace, it is crucial that attention is not deflected away from strong and successful people management in order to motivate, encourage and develop the skills of others.


The Core C’s for candidates

The WEF report highlights the 4 C’s of human ability crucial to the functioning and development of any workplace across all industries; 5) Creativity, 6) Critical Thinking, 7) Cognitive Flexibility and 8) Complex Problem Solving – all of which have proved very difficult to transfer over from man to machine. Therefore, possessing these skills will become essential for candidates in the not so distant future.

Whilst technology can certainly copy elements of these skills, only human beings can deliver them to the full. As the quantity of data at our disposal continues to increase exponentially, there is a growing need for a workforce of critical thinkers and problem solvers with a range of cognitive abilities in order to make sense of it all. Afterall, data is only useful once it has been critically analysed and applied to complex problems.

Likewise, the need for creative thinkers is on the rise – it has moved up the list of desirable skills by 7 places since 2015. Employers are desperately seeking creative minds who are able to apply technology to products and services in a way that maximises their benefit.


Decision Time

Finally, employers are going to value most highly those candidates with skill sets geared towards decision making. Whilst computers, codes and calculations are becoming an ever more instrumental part of decision making processes in the workplace, technology has not yet been able to match the human capabilities of 9) Judgement and 10) Negotiation in terms of making and influencing decisions. Algorithms may aid us in making decision rules and spotting errors, but the fact remains that all elements of real life situations cannot be characterized in a model, no matter how advanced it may be. Only human judgement can pick up on these subtleties and use them to make suggestions and show initiative regarding decision making. Likewise, a robot cannot influence a deal or close a sale in the same way that a talented negotiator is able.


How can Merit help?

The overwhelming conclusion is that whilst technology will, and already is, changing our employment landscape, it is those skills which cannot be replaced by technology that are set to become the most highly valued.

If you are looking for an opportunity and organisation which will value your top skills, please contact to discuss. 

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