18 Future Skills for the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 10, 2022 | Published June 29, 2021

Updated March 10, 2022

Published June 29, 2021

According to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report, 50% of workers will need to learn new skills by 2025. What once were considered core skills will also change, according to the report, impacting 40% of current workers within less than a year. As you pursue a career or even change careers, it’s important be open to learning new cognitive, motivational and social-based skills. In this article, we explain what future skills are and why they are important along with examples of projected in-demand skills.

Why are future skills important?

It's important to develop future skills because having them can increase your success and help improve your career prospects as new occupations emerge with digital and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. No matter what career you may consider, developing and enhancing these skills is useful. Future skills can also help you:

  • Become more adaptable

  • Adjust to career changes and new environments

  • Open opportunities for advancement

  • Succeed in a variety of settings

  • Improve teamwork skills

  • Operate in a digital world 

  • Add value beyond what automation systems and artificial learning offer

  • Offer greater benefits to companies that hire you

Skills for the future

World Economic Forum has been tracking future skills since 2016. It has listed critical thinking and problem-solving each year. In the latest report, self-management skills such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility have been added.

The report also states that greater adoption of technology will mean in-demand skills across jobs change over the next five years, and skills gaps will continue to be high. Most employers survey plan to offer internal training supplemented by online learning and external consultants.

Future in-demand skills

Here are important future skills to help you grow your career:

1. Analytical thinking

Employers will continue to look for employees that can think analytically to find solutions to problems. Thinking analytically can help you categorize information into small groups to better interpret data and make accurate conclusions. You use analytical thinking to detect patterns, brainstorm, interpret data, integrate new information and make decisions based on multiple factors and options.

Many careers rely on this skill for research, problem-solving and predicting trends. One way to help develop analytical thinking skills is to be more observant of your surroundings and put effort into understanding the way things work. When you expand your knowledge of the industry, you'll spend less time testing and more time solving problems faster.

2. Active learning

Active learning is an education strategy that uses activities to fully engage in the material you're trying to learn. Being an active learner can help you develop skills and learn how to perform job tasks quickly. This is valuable to employers because it means you're adaptable so it may be easier to train you. 

You can develop active learning skills by immersing yourself in topics through discussion, role-play scenarios and problem-solving to obtain a complete understanding of the material.

3. Complex problem-solving

Complex problem-solving is the ability to gather the information needed to analyze an issue and use strategic planning to resolve it. This skill helps identify issues in real-world business settings. Businesses face complex problems every day, and it's important they hire employees who can develop creative solutions. 

Practicing critical thinking can help improve your problem-solving skills. It’s important to be able to look at a problem from different vantage points, develop alternative solutions and then select the best solution. 

Related: Effective Problem-Solving Steps in the Workplace

4. Communication

Communication will continue to be an in-demand skill for future jobs. Having communication skills means you can interpret meaning from written and spoken language as well as convey ideas effectively to others. In the workplace, communication is key to collaborating with coworkers and achieving company goals, such as production output or increasing sales.

Related: 7 Tips for Improving Communication Skills

5. Cognitive flexibility

Cognitive flexibility allows you to multitask and adapt your behavior to different environments. Flexibility skills can help you adjust your work habits to fit a different job or task. People with great flexibility can change their schedules or change their tasks quickly to accommodate unusual situations that occur on the job. 

6. Creativity

Creativity involves the ability to think of unique solutions and use your perspective to see situations differently. It can be a useful tool for developing new ideas, increasing efficiency and devising solutions to complex problems. Creativity is also a skill that can translate to any job role in every industry.

If you have the opportunity, choose to be on a team of people who have different perspectives than you. Doing so can broaden your own point of view and inspire new ways for you to do your work.

Related: How To Be More Creative: Why It's Important and Steps To Boost Creativity

7. Critical thinking and analysis

Critical thinking is the act of analyzing facts to understand a problem or topic thoroughly. The critical thinking process typically includes steps such as collecting information and data, asking thoughtful questions and analyzing possible solutions. Good critical thinkers can work both independently and with others to solve problems.

To improve your critical thinking skills, expand your industry-specific or technical skills to help you more easily identify problems. You may consider taking additional courses in your industry that require critical thinking and analysis.

Read more: What’s the Importance of Critical Thinking in the Workplace?

9. Digital literacy

Digital literacy is a skill that is increasingly important as technology in the workplace advances. Being digitally literate means understanding terminology for social networks and mobile applications. Employers may prefer employees who are well-rounded and competent with technology. 

To develop digital skills, consider taking courses in computer information and science or taking part in workshops that focus on new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

10. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a skill that helps you regulate your own emotions and understand and sympathize with others. These abilities are valuable in a workplace because they help you understand others, resolve conflict, reduce stress and improve the work environment. This skill can also enhance your collaboration capability, aid in teamwork and help you meet company goals more efficiently. 

You can develop or improve your emotional intelligence skills by trying to listen to and relate to others, considering various perspectives and trying to compromise when you disagree.

Read more: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

11. Initiative

Initiative is the ability to recognize where and how to make improvements and create a plan to perform improvement. Employers may seek employees with the initiative to help further company goals for innovation. People who have initiative often also have creative and leadership skills, which are valuable in the workplace.

You can practice initiative by sharing your ideas at meetings or individually with colleagues and supervisors. Expressing your opinion can help you establish your voice within the company and build your reputation as an employee who actively looks for solutions.

Related: 9 Tips for Taking Initiative at Work

12. Innovation

Innovation skills are the critical skills leaders and their employees need to contribute to an organization’s innovation performance—skills needed to produce new and improved strategies, capabilities, processes and services. They allow you to use your existing knowledge to discover original ideas that benefit you and your team. 

Related: Innovation Skills: Definition and Examples

13. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are abilities such as active listening, dependability, empathy, verbal and nonverbal communication and flexibility. These skills can help you build healthy relationships, which can contribute to success in your career. 

You can improve your interpersonal skills by practicing being self-aware and requesting feedback about your behaviors and interactions with others.

Read more: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

14. Leadership and social influence

Employers often prefer candidates who have leadership qualities such as responsibility, initiative and integrity. These skills aid in collaboration, goal-setting and time management. Having leadership skills is helpful for any job role. 

Opinion leaders, sometimes referred to as social influencers, will also be valuable in future businesses. They are valued for their ability to influence others, often helping them make decisions with online or physical purchases and lifestyle choices. They have an audience or following that trust them as a source of information for their interests.

Read more: Core Values of a Great Leader

15. Reasoning and ideation

The skill to think through ideas will be in demand to meet future business and technology issues. Reasoning is the ability to proceed from hypothesis to conclusion logically and sensibly. Problem-solving skills require both an ability to correctly define a problem and find a solution to it. Ideation, in turn, is often regarded as creativity, the ability to come up with new ideas and ways of doing, of testing the ideas and thus solving problems. They share many of the traits needed for analytical thinking, innovation, creativity and initiative. 

Related: 7 Types of Reasoning: Definitions and Examples

16. Self-management

Developing strong self-management skills can help you improve your performance and achieve your professional goals. Managing yourself, or self-management, is the ability to control your thoughts, feelings, and actions at work and in your personal life. It includes being organized, ambitious, adaptable and the ability to maintain your time and stress. This means you can take the initiative to reach your goals and motivate yourself to keep working hard. 

You can develop this skill by using time management and setting goals for yourself. You should also consider creating SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. This means every goal you make should meet these criteria.

Related: 5 Ways To Improve Self-Discipline at Work

17. Technology design

Technology is prevalent in the workplace in every industry, which is why it's useful to develop technology design skills. These skills involve the ability to create, understand and improve digital user experiences. They are used to help map a customer's journey, develop software, create applications and websites and help improve human interaction with technology. 

Related: 15 Careers in Design and Technology

18. Technology monitoring

Skills in technology monitoring will be in demand as automation, machine learning and AI use increase. There will be more opportunities to remotely monitor and manage technology across distributed locations to make sure it’s online and functional at all times. When something happens that takes this technology offline, you need to know when it happened and what caused it to go offline so you can fix it.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set To Advance Your Career

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