The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a catastrophic blow to the global economy and resulted in a massive loss of lives and livelihoods. This economic and social disruption has destroyed millions of jobs and also put millions of enterprises at risk. A “Future of Jobs Report 2020” by World Economic Forum says that 85 million jobs may become redundant and 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. This reskilling requirement will go up to 1 billion+ people by 2030. However, the report has a silver lining by estimating that even more jobs, i.e. 97 million will emerge that are more amenable to the interplay between humans, machines and algorithms.
Notably, the report highlights that in the next two years, 42% of the skills required to perform existing jobs will change with interpersonal skills gaining importance. The report cites critical thinking and problem-solving as the employers’ most favored skills over the next five years.
Greater adoption of technology means new in-demand skills across jobs replacing the existing ones over the next five years, despite the skills gaps remaining high. Since employability skills are at the heart of any successful business and career, the question on everybody’s mind is - Which of these skills are likely to be in demand in 2021? Some of the employability skills which are likely to gain prominence in 2021 are:
Analytical thinking & Complex problem solving
It’s about having the mental elasticity to solve problems not seen before and being able to solve them quickly and efficiently. More than 60% of recruiters identify problem-solving as a key determinant towards a favorable hiring decision. The very importance of problem-solving lies in the fact that it is intertwined with decision making and hence has the potential to impact almost all the functions within an organization.
Critical thinking and Analysis
Being a critical thinker is using logic and reasoning, after analyzing facts and possible solutions, to arrive at the aptest one. Employers value this skill as it leads to new, fresh and innovative ways to remove impediments to growth and productivity like mismanagement of finances, process inefficiencies, HR conflicts and streamlining of the distribution channel etc.
It’s like being a mental gymnast with an ability to think in different ways and having cognitive flexibility - swing, leap and twirl back and forth between different systems of thought - seeing new patterns and making unique associations between ideas. Employers value innovation as a critical skill because innovators ensure that the organization is one step ahead of evolving workplace trends and technological advances. As a result, innovators are key to maximizing global connectivity and meeting consumer expectations.
Emotional intelligence [EI] or Emotional Quotient [EQ] is a recent phenomenon and a new skill given high weightage by employers as it is seen to significantly impact self-motivation by processing and managing emotions, especially in terms of professional relationships and inter-personal communications. EI measures our adeptness to adjust behavior depending on the mood of a colleague, partner, or family member.
Knowingly or unknowingly, negotiation is an integral part of daily operations in any organization. Whether it is about finalizing a business deal to the best cost and timelines, allotting responsibilities for a project, or just deciding on the output of the day, you're simply negotiating! So, better the negotiator you are, the better is the productivity and outcomes for the organization.
It is the ability to motivate teams, maximize their productivity and respond to their needs. Leadership is more to do with the ability to delegate and develop a strong management style. A leader is valued as he has the ability to make quick and sharp decisions when push comes to shove while managing situations and people, especially in times of a crisis.
Sometimes, looking at a problem differently can throw up a solution that can positively impact the organization. Employers have a keen eye for innovative, fresh and unorthodox talent to handle business challenges and internal issues. If you’re able to connect the dots across seemingly disparate information and come up with ‘new ideas and perspectives’, then you are a creative person.
Learning Agility is basically finding a way to do things when you don’t know what to do! People who are learning agile are valued by organizations as they take complex challenges head-on and turn experiences into learnings and practices.
While the above-listed employability skills will be critical, the importance of few others like communication, customer centricity, digital and financial literacy would continue to be in demand even in the new normal as employers revisit their people strategy and enable a learning culture for higher outcomes, productivity and bottom lines.