As the world evolves to embrace the 4th industrial revolution, our workplaces are changing. Just as other industrial revolutions transformed the skillset and experience required from the workforce, we can expect the same from this revolution. Only five years from now, 35 percent of the skills seen as essential today will change according to the World Economic Forum. While we're not able to predict the future, yet, here are the ten most important job skills (plus a bonus one) every company will be looking for in 2020.
1. Data Literacy
Data has become every organisation’s most important asset—the “fuel” of the 4th industrial revolution. Companies that don’t use that fuel to drive their success will inevitably fall behind. So, to make data valuable, organisations must employ individuals who have data literacy and the skills to turn the data into business value.
2. Critical Thinking
There's no shortage of information and data, but individuals with the ability to discern what information is trustworthy among the abundant mix of misinformation such as fakes news, deep fakes, propaganda, and more will be critical to an organisation's success. Critical thinking doesn’t imply being negative; it’s about being able to objectively evaluate information and how it should be used or even if it should be trusted by an organisation. Employees who are open-minded, yet able to judge the quality of information inundating us will be valued.
3. Tech Savviness
Technical skills will be required by employees doing just about every job since digital tools will be commonplace as the 4th industrial revolution impacts every industry. Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, blockchain, and more will become a part of every worker's everyday experience, whether the workplace is a factory or law firm. So, not only do people need to be comfortable around these tools, they will need to develop skills to work with them. Awareness of these technologies and relevant technical skills will be required for every job from a hairstylist to an accountant and everything in between.
4. Adaptability and Flexibility
As quickly as the world is changing, the half-life of skills is constantly reducing. Therefore, people need to commit to learning new skills throughout their careers and know they must be adaptable to change. Important to this is understanding that what worked yesterday isn’t necessarily the best strategy for tomorrow, so openness to unlearning skills is also important. Additionally, people must be cognitively flexible to new ideas and ways of doing things.
Regardless of how many machines work beside us, humans are still better at creativity. It's essential that creative humans are employed by companies to invent, imagine something new and dream up a better tomorrow. Tomorrow's workplaces will demand new ways of thinking, and human creativity is critical to moving forward.
6. Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Another area where humans have the edge on machines is with emotional intelligence—our ability to be aware of, control, and express our emotions and the emotions of others. This ability will be important as long as there are humans in the workforce since it impacts every interaction we have with one another.
7. Cultural Intelligence and Diversity
Organisations are increasingly diverse, and effective employees must be able to respect differences and work with people of a different race, religion, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Also, businesses are increasingly operating across international boundaries, which means it is important that employees are sensitive to other cultures, languages, political, and religious beliefs. Employees with strong cultural intelligence and who can adapt to others who might perceive the world differently are also key in developing more inclusive products and services for an organisation.
8. Leadership Skills
Leadership skills will be paramount for not only those at the top of a traditional corporate hierarchy but increasingly for those individuals throughout the company who are expected to lead in the 4th industrial revolution. Enabled by the support of machines, there will be more individuals who are in decision-making positions, whether leading project teams or departments. Understanding how to bring out the best in and inspire every individual within a diverse and distributed workforce requires strong leadership skills.
9. Judgement and Complex Decision Making
Machines might be able to analyse data at a speed, and depth humans are incapable of, but many decisions regarding what to do with the information provided by machines must be still made by humans. Humans with the ability to take input from the data while considering how decisions can impact the broader community, including effects on human sensibilities such as morale, are important members of the team. So, even if the data support one decision, a human needs to step in to think about how a decision could impact other areas of the business, including its people.
When companies are looking to hire humans in the 4th industrial revolution, skills that are uniquely human such as collaboration and strong interpersonal skills will be emphasised. They will want employees on their team who can interact well with others and help drive the company forward collectively.
BONUS: In addition to the skills listed above that every company will be looking for in the 4th industrial revolution, there are several self-management skills that will make people more successful in the future, including self-motivation, prioritisation/time management, stress management and the ability to embrace and celebrate change. Those people who have a growth mindset, are adept at experimenting and learning from mistakes, as well as have a sense of curiosity will be highly coveted in the 4th industrial revolution.
Bernard Marr is an internationally bestselling author, futurist, keynote speaker, and strategic advisor to companies and governments. He advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations on strategy, digital transformation and business performance. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world and the No 1 influencer in the UK. He has authored 16 best-selling books, is a frequent contributor to the World Economic Forum and writes a regular column for Forbes. Every day Bernard actively engages his almost 2 million social media followers and shares content that reaches millions of readers.