27th Jan 2019
Increasingly there is a greater focus on increasing national labour productivity. This becomes a hot topic for discussion when one considers the developing countries of the world. India and China are currently the engine rooms of the world and it is important that the workforce in these countries are maximizing every hour spent at work.
If you live in one of these countries, then it’s time you reviewed the skills that you possess. The current and future workplace demands a very different set of skills compared to what is traditionally sought after. In India, graduating students from colleges, universities and young professionals focused heavily on developing programming skills without any focus on enhancing their design-centred thinking. The rise of the UI/UX world in technology has helped non-technical / non-IT background individuals to succeed. However, this rampant skilling exercise in one particular competency (i.e. IT skills) has left the cupboard open for key skills which are the demands of a working professional from the corporate world today.
1. Analytical thinking and innovation
2. Complex problem-solving
3. Critical thinking and analysis
4. Active learning and learning strategies
5. Creativity, originality, and initiative
6. Attention to detail, trustworthiness
7. Emotional intelligence
8. Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation
9. Leadership and social influence
10. Coordination and time management
Source: WEF Future of Jobs Report 2018
The typical response to this skill set is to say that these are “soft skills” and typically not required till you work in a fancy corporate office or in an MNC (multi-national company) in a senior position. For a generation of Indian students and young professionals, who were schooled in just developing IQ and being the most intelligent worker in a team, there are troubled times ahead. Increasingly, all positions in the corporate world and non-corporate world are demanding enhanced EQ and people skills even at the entry level. The traditional soft skills are becoming the new hard skills. All this has been captured very eloquently in the WEF Future of Jobs Report 2018. The table below highlights how traditional skills will be declining in 2022.
2018 to 2022: Top 10 Skills Demand
The above table shows eight common skills in the Top 10 which are emerging in 2018 and trending in 2022. There are only two skills that have been added from 2018 to 2022 - namely Technology Design and Programming and Systems Analysis and Evaluation. With the subsequent rise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, there tends to be a lot of focus on Technology Design and Programming skills. However, most students and young professionals miss out on the other nine fundamental skills that need to be harnessed before one becomes useful for organizations as a productive employee. Increasingly, more people are being hired and promoted who are able to do execute “systems-based thinking” as highlighted in the WEF report as a trending skill in 2022. As the world enhances its inter-connectivity due to improved networking and connectivity infrastructure, there is strong demand for individuals who can think holistically and build and execute strategies for interconnected systems and processes.
Another key area to explore with the WEF report is the declining skill set in 2022. Especially in India, there is a substantial focus on rudimentary corporate skills including but not limited to memory (how quickly can I memorize things), verbal (i.e. quality of one’s English), and operational (management of people, finances and materials) skills. By 2022, especially in a large organization, these skills will be largely executed by self-learning automated processes. The human contribution to organizations at large will be around innovating and creating new avenues of business rather than maintaining the status quo.