Applied Psychology

What Future Work Skills Do We Need in 5 Years?

Feb 29, 2024 | By Jenna van Schoor

The World Economic Forum (WEF) regularly researches the top work skills needed in the global marketplace. The most recent Future of Jobs report was released last year and shares critical future work skills.

Wherever you are in your career, now is a perfect opportunity to start thinking about how your current skill set aligns with changing trends.

This post will overview some of the most highly-rated skills needed in the workplace now and in the years ahead.

Overview of current in-demand skills

According to the WEF’s research, the top in-demand skills in the workplace over the next five years include:

  • Analytical and creative thinking
  • Resilience, flexibility and agility
  • Motivation and self-awareness
  • Curiosity and lifelong learning
  • Empathy and active listening
  • Leadership and social influence

To better understand how these skills will be valuable in the years ahead, we’ll now expand on them and put them into context.

Analytical and creative thinking

Analytical and creative thinking are the top two most important competencies that align with the future of work.

In context, the last year has been characterised by increasing geopolitical tensions and ongoing uncertainty and instability. Research suggests that we’re also still dealing with the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, we’re working in a continually disruptive and changing environment which requires analytical and creative skills to come up with solutions.

Analytical skills apply in many situations but primarily revolve around making sense of people, data, trends and patterns. As the Future of Jobs Report suggests, technological integration will be a vital part of the evolution of the workplace. While AI has yet to automate as many jobs as was expected in the WEF 2020 Future of Jobs report, analytical skills provide a way to make sense of human and technological complexities. 

Creative and analytical skills also work together; in an automated world, we still need to make decisions and work in a team. In other words, you can continue to add value in constantly changing environments by harnessing your analytical ability and developing your creative skills. 

Resilience, flexibility and agility

You only need to have glanced at the news over the past year to know that ongoing political conflicts affect our lives in various ways, most importantly, how to trade and do business with people worldwide. A changing climate also challenges how we live due to shifting weather patterns. 

Identifying and understanding complexities, as well as developing innovative solutions, are essential. But you also need tenacity and stamina to navigate challenging conversations and circumstances and the flexibility and manoeuvrability to cope in disruptive environments. 

In an overwhelmingly data-driven world, being agile and finding practical ways of managing large data sets and tasks is also imperative. 

Motivation and self-awareness

True grit is essential to cope or thrive in a challenging world and motivate yourself every day, even when things get difficult or tedious! 

We might not constantly be negotiating crises, but we need to have the self-awareness and inspiration to better ourselves if we are going to thrive in a continually changing world.

Curiosity and lifelong learning

We spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to study after school. While this is incredibly important, the truth is that we’re always going to be learning.

No matter how much we specialise, we will always apply our skills to novel situations; otherwise, we will get bored and stagnate. So, to thrive in a world where change seems to be the order of the day, it’s essential to develop an attitude of curiosity towards the world. To stay relevant, we all need to become lifelong learners. 

Empathy and active listening

Yes, automation is happening, and specific jobs, notably in the administrative sector, are declining due to bots and other automative software.

However, on the other hand, machines can’t empathise (yet), so soft skills like empathy and active listening are becoming highly prized. We can try to develop software to solve all kinds of problems. So, often, the only way to come up with a solution is to see and feel things from another person’s perspective and truly listen to what they are saying.

To learn how to do this, we need to find practical tools for developing empathy and awareness. We can read as many books as we like and listen to thousands of podcasts, but practising with other people is the only way to develop these communication skills. 

Leadership and social influence

We all know the power of political figures and influencers, but how do those people gain a following? What makes them different? In a time of fake news and mass hysteria, it’s vital to cultivate leaders who can help navigate complexities and be positive role models. 

In personal and professional environments, being able to lead and manage others constructively is a supreme and highly underrated skill that will become increasingly important. 

Learn in-demand work skills at SACAP Global

To help you keep your CV up to speed, SACAP Global offers a range of specialised short courses that will equip you for the future of work.

You can learn many of the skills discussed above in a variety of contexts, but to focus on critical soft skills, we offer online courses in all of the areas we’ve discussed above:

Analytical and creative thinking

Intro to Human Behaviour,Factors Influencing Human Behaviour and Domains of Psychology will enhance your analytical and creative skills. Learning to understand and analyse data requires a more technical skill set, but analysing and understanding patterns in human behaviour is also necessary to negotiate a tumultuous world. 

Understanding and analysing your behaviour can also be advantageous, which you can learn more about in Social Influences on Human Behaviour. This course focuses on societal influences, which is relevant considering how many diverse changes are happening today.

Resilience, flexibility and agility

Knowing how to manage your mental health is beneficial to stay resilient in the face of change. We offer two short online coursesto help build these skills: Managing and Preventing Anxiety, Holistic Approach to Managing Depression and Enhancing Mental Health

Motivation and self-awareness

You can learn to be more in tune with your thoughts and behaviour to become more self-aware. Online short courses like The Art of Motivation: Empower Self and Others and Building Positive Self-esteem can increase motivation and help you develop awareness and confidence. 

Curiosity and lifelong learning

We offer a range of online short courses that can help you develop a lifelong approach to learning, including Developing a Growth Mindset. This course will help you build a more flexible and open-minded approach to learning, which can help you get more excited about becoming a lifelong learner. 

Empathy and active listening

To learn more about communicating better with others, which includes learning empathy and emotional awareness, we offer these short online courses: How to Have Critical Conversations, Effective Interpersonal Communication and Advanced Interpersonal Communication.

Leadership and social influence

Finally, to build essential leadership skills, especially in business, we offer these short online courses: Intro to Management and Leadership, Intro to Coaching and Coaching Skills for Managers. These courses equip learners with tools to manage teams, navigate conflict and spark the best in individuals.

Browse our full range of  online short courses and workshops.

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