Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, soft skills had been growing in demand to fill new roles that complement automation and new kinds of work. Today, that acceleration has only magnified the need for businesses to hire for, train and cultivate the right kind of skills among their workforces.
According to new ManpowerGroup research, a K-shaped, two-speed recovery is emerging. Some industries and people are bouncing back faster and better – those in growth sectors and with high demand skills –while others are at risk of falling further behind. By 2025, humans and machines will split work-related tasks 50-50, while 97 million new jobs will emerge in AI, the Green economy and Care economy.1 As the workforce moves quickly into a new chapter in the digital era, here are soft skills that employers today need most.
Collaboration, communication and teamwork
Drawing on multiple people’s talents from diverse backgrounds is the best way to foster the creativity and innovation needed to find solutions to today’s complex challenges. This includes the soft skills of being able to connect people between a variety of styles, generations and work environments. And, as the business environment becomes more complex and flexible work arrangements continue, effective communication skills will be even more essential. The collaborative nature of leaders and workers will be able to add value and glue together disparate elements to create more than the sum of their parts.
Critical thinking and analysis
Computers can generate big data. Spreadsheets can help analyze numbers. Machines can help automate responses and generate outcomes. But at the end of the day, humans are still needed to see the big picture, communicate effectively, incorporate data, feedback and insights to solve problems and make sound decisions. When there isn’t always a clear road map, the ability to think holistically and consider long-term implications is essential.
Leadership and influence
With uncertainty the norm, organizations need employees who can effectively navigate challenging environments, motivate teams and produce results. That is why transparency, resilience, and optimism are such essential traits of today’s leader.
While automation is augmenting work, effective teamwork and collaboration among humans will only increase in importance. A leader must, therefore, possess the interpersonal skills to guide and motivate teams to deliver results even in the midst of change and ambiguity.
Having the right soft skills will be even more essential as organizations transform and digitize at speed and scale. The biggest challenge, however, will be to bring all people on this transformation so that nobody is left behind.
Download the report Skills Revolution Reboot: The 3Rs - Renew, Reskill, Redeploy for more insights on today’s soft skills and how to assess for them.
1 The Future of Jobs Report 2020. World Economic Forum, October 2020.