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Top 10 skills businesses will need in 2020

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Do you know which skills businesses should be keenest to have on board in four years’ time, or the type of candidate it’ll be worthwhile focusing your recruitment efforts on?

Global connectivity, and the rise of intelligent machines and automation - robots set to take over many jobs humans currently do - mean the employment landscape is experiencing a rapid period of evolution, and the skill sets businesses need to stay in the game are also shifting.

In January 2016 The World Economic Forum released its Future of Jobs report, created from the findings of a survey of chief HR and strategy officers from over 350 organisations across nine industries globally. The aim was to predict the impact technological advancements will have on labour markets - and the new skills needed to succeed.

What are the must-have skills for businesses?

Despite computers, robots and automation poised to snatch more jobs from people, not even the most advanced machine can master the unconscious process that makes us uniquely human: social skills and human interaction.

And as the report points out, uniquely human skills - in particular social skills - will be even more crucial in the workplace of 2020. Here’s the full top 10:

1 Complex problem solving

Robots may be able to solve some problems, but complex problem solving is still something only humans can do. That’s why this skill tops the list of skills needed in 2020.

2 Critical thinking

Approaching an idea with scepticism and doubt rather than blanket acceptance and using logic and reasoning to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses will become even more powerful in business.

3 Creativity

Creative jobs can’t be automated, so employees who can think up ways to harness new technologies and invent new products and services will be highly prized in the workplace.

4 People management

Being able to motivate people and develop employees is already an important business asset. But people management will play an even greater future role, particularly in the energy and media industries.

5 Coordinating with others

The ability to collaborate and coordinate with other people is another social skill that hasn’t yet been automated, and being an effective team player will be still prized highly in 2020.

6 Emotional intelligence

Reading people - being aware of how people react and understanding why they do - is something no smart machine has yet perfected. That’s why a higher degree of emotional intelligence figures on this list of must-have skills for the future.

7 Judgement and decision making

Businesses will collect more and more data moving towards 2020, so making sense of it to make commercial decisions will become crucial. The role of a data analyst in particular is set to grow in importance.

8 Service orientation skills

Service orientation is about being able to anticipate, recognise and meet other people’s needs in the workplace. It’s a golden skill because robots cannot intuitively and actively look for ways to help others.

9 Negotiation skills

Being able to negotiate effectively is already useful in a multitude of sectors, but by 2020 every business will need more candidates adept in this - particularly for computer and mathematical, arts and design roles.

10 Cognitive flexibility

Cognitive flexibility may seem an abstract term, but it means being able to think about multiple concepts at once. It brings together creativity, logical reasoning and problem solving into one package.

How knowing this can help your business

At HR GO we know that strong all-round candidates are worth their weight in gold, no matter which sector your business operates in. But why keep an eye on which skills are set to be prized most highly in 2020? Because it will help you recruit people who can add the most value to your organisation in the long term.

What’s more, as new technologies disrupt labour markets over the next few years the skills shortages many sectors have experienced are likely to get worse.
So even though you and your rivals will all face the same changing workplace, being able to anticipate and proactively lay the groundwork for the future skills you’ll need is something you can start to do now to set yourself apart by 2020.

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