Learning Strategy Skills

The Skills To Thrive For The Next 5 Years

Future-proof your career with the right skills

Survival is the game of the human race.

At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to figure out how to survive. Skills are the currency of that game. They’re how we position ourselves in the marketplace of employability.

That was a rather philosophical line.

Last week, we focused on the 5 skills that matter most, and why too many companies are ignoring the most important skill of this year in AI delegation. Today we’ll unpack how these skills co-exist with each other and the next 5 year outlook for our skills.

The Skills Brain

This viz is from the Microsoft Work Trend report. I’ve adapted it for purposes of clarity.

Newsflash: Learning isn’t keeping up with the pace of work.

You probably knew that already.

It’s not just AI skills that leaders are looking for employees to develop. They want those that will enhance an AI-powered future too. As we covered last time, the future is human-powered.

Human + AI skills are the winning combo.

You’ve probably seen that line in some form on social media. I believe it’s the future we’re currently building. Look at generative AI as a tool. Like any tool, it has a time and place for use, and its real power is in the hands of a skilled operator.

If these are the baseline skills, what else can we expect to craft in the next 5 years of both reskilling and upskilling programmes?

Let’s dive deeper down the rabbit hole, friend.

Back to the future…or 2027

Like many other reports, WSE drops their 10 skills for the reskilling and upskilling scene:

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Creative thinking
  3. AI and big data
  4. Leadership and social influence
  5. Resilience, flexibility and agility
  6. Curiosity and lifelong learning
  7. Technological literacy
  8. Design and user experience
  9. Motivation and self-awareness
  10. Empathy and active listening

The takeaway: Skills are always being disrupted. It is the nature of life.

Are you seeing the pattern here?

Human + digital technology together. These are the perfect combo to navigate the career game.

In the year of AI, is it any surprise companies rank analytical thinking as the #1 core skill for work?

Human thinking on any level is something generative AI can’t do.

In an evolving workplace where we’ll likely partner with AI tools, the ability to think like a human will be a prized asset. That’s why it’s no surprise, critical thinking came in at #2 on this list.

The social skills pandemic

Digital technology is beautiful.

I’m a huge fan of what it’s contributed to and enabled in society. Yet, I’m also aware of what we’ve lost.

I feel like we struggle to talk with and engage with each other more as the years pass by. I heard from organisations recently how their next generation of talent struggles to do simple things outside of a screen.

More data on this is now coming to light.

That’s why it’s no surprise this report’s top 10 skills for the future are stuffed with social skills like:

  • Leading: As workplaces become more collaborative and less hierarchical, the ability to lead and influence others is no longer restricted to the C-suite.

  • Empathy and Active Listening: With remote work and digital communication becoming the norm, the need for empathy and active listening skyrockets. These skills are vital for effective communication and teamwork, particularly when face-to-face interactions are limited.

  • Emotional Intelligence: High EQ, represented by these social skills, is increasingly seen as a predictor of success, sometimes even over IQ. It’s not just about being smart. It’s about being smart with people.

Evolving & emerging skills

I find we never do enough skill health checks.

Which is weird, IMO.

They’re the objects that grant us the power to improve our earnings and freedom, yet we don’t tend to them like you would a garden. Your skills need constant attention in the form of watering and pruning ya know.

  • Every quarter I recommend you do this:
  • Open a doc or grab a notebook
  • Create a 3-column table
  • Place these 3 headers – ‘expiring’, ‘evolving’ and ‘emerging’ in one of the column headers
  • Now, the good stuff. Reflect on your current skills and place each of them in the best column.

The power of this exercise enables you to:

  1. Chuck out the skills which no longer serve you and the world
  2. Double down on the skills that can give you a performance advantage
  3. Identify advantageous skills to add to separate you from the crowd

To help you with the last two columns, here’s what the World Economic Forums identified as the most pressing evolving and emerging skills across industries:

Skills are the biggest barrier to success

This is true for both you personally, and organisations.

We cannot understate the importance of skills in life and work. We each partake in the career marketplace. The currency in this market is skills.

The better skills you have, the better opportunities you can unlock.

You will see the reverse of this on the company side. For any company to succeed, they need the people with the best skills. And, those with the best skills can command the best opportunities.

Are you following me? Good.

We see this backed up in more data from the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report. The single biggest barrier to businesses evolving is skills.

We have two big opportunities as L&D operators and leaders here:

1/ Focus deeply on your skills

As those often responsible for helping others improve, we tend to forget ourselves.

Don’t make this mistake.

You play in the career marketplace with the rest of the world. Spend time investing in the skills explored above with the how-to frameworks shared last time. These will be your route to being a high-performing operator with opportunities knocking at your door and a strategic L&D leader, should that be the path you want.

Pair these human skills with the 7 skills L&D pros need today and you will be unstoppable.

2/ Crafting the right skills strategies

Let’s be real, most companies have no clue what skills they have or need.

I see a lot of posturing online but very few have a real grasp on this. In next week’s chat, I’m going to share ideas and examples to help you close your company’s skills gap. For now, I’ll say this.

Lean on your internal and external market data to focus on the right skills, not more skills.

Too many of these fancy skill-based organisation strategies are focused on opinions rather than concrete evidence.

Questions to consider right now are:

  • Do I have a view of the key skills my organisation needs to succeed today
  • If not, how can I get this? (talent management data, HR and L&D systems etc)
  • Are these skills aligned with my organisation’s goals?
  • What are the skills we need to be successful in the next 3 years? Future-proof your workforce
  • How do I get the answers to these in the simplest and most minimal way? This is very important ←

You can learn more about skill-based organisations in this piece from Degreed.

Final thoughts

In sum:

  • Don’t forget to invest in your own skills
  • Focus on the right skills, not more skills
  • Skill strategies are worthless without the right data

Also read: The 5 skills that matter for work and how to build them

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

One reply on “The Skills To Thrive For The Next 5 Years”

Fascinating insights on the evolving landscape of skills and their role in the game of survival. The emphasis on the combination of human and AI skills is spot on — a powerful synergy for the future. The list of skills for the next 5 years is insightful, especially with the focus on resilience, curiosity, and empathy. Exciting times ahead for the ever-changing nature of skills! 🚀 #SkillsDevelopment #FutureOfWork

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