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The work skills of the future

The work skills of the future

According to the World Economic Forum, we are moving towards the fourth industrial revolution, where there will be a greater focus on artificial intelligence and machination, among other technological sectors. This revolution will see much advancement and change as it brings together advances in digital, physical and biological technologies.  There will be demand for new jobs that have never before existed. As such, with the coming changes come a need for new skills designed to thrive in the new industrial society. The World Economic Forum (WEF), in their The Future of Jobs report, outline the important work skills of the future.

These are the most important skills of the future that you’ll need in the workplace:

Cognitive flexibility:

Cognitive flexibility refers to your minds ability to jump between various points of thought. CareerFAQ.com uses the example of your mind being a gymnast. Its strength comes in its ability to swing, leap and twirl between the various gymnast apparatus’, or different streams of thought. As such, you need to be a mental gymnast.

This skill comes with practice, so challenge your mind! Learn new ways of thinking, expand your interests, read more, and listen to other viewpoints.


Social interaction will not be left behind in the future. On the contrary, your social skills will be even more important. This is because robots/artificial intelligence, who will be infiltrating the future workforce, cannot interact and negotiate as well as humans (for now).

It is increasingly important to build interpersonal skills and learn to negotiate effectively to maintain your position in the future workforce.

Service orientation:

Service orientation refers to one’s ability to help others. The WEF predicts that businesses will see much more customer concern and feedback. According to them, the energy, financial services and IT industries are ‘increasingly finding themselves confronted with new consumer concerns about issues such as carbon footprints, food safety, labour standards and privacy.’ As such, businesses will need to be 2 steps ahead, anticipating customer concerns and meeting those concerns before they escalate. To build this skill, you need to become more empathetic. Put yourself in the customers’ position. Consider their values, needs, fears, and dislikes. Use this information to shape the way going forward.

Judgment and decision-making:

Good judgment and decision-making will always be important. Considering the wealth of data that will need to be sifted through, it is important that workers are able to decode this data and establish appropriate responses to inform business strategies and decisions.

To build this skill, it is important to become comfortable with big data, and learn how to effectively mine data.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows us to effectively understand people’s emotions, and how to adjust our behavior to fit different situations. Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry explains that ‘It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.’

This skill is grounded in empathy and effective listening skills, so start paying more attention to other people and reading situations!

Coordinating with others

The saying ‘Teamwork makes the dream work” still holds true! Effective human interaction where workers play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses will greatly advantage the workplace.

It is imperative to strengthen your communication skills and use emotional intelligence to establish the strengths and weaknesses of others.

People management

Managers and team leaders are imperative parts of the workplace. Those in managerial positons help to motivate employees, maximize productivity and strengthen workplace bonds. Thus, managers need to be emotionally intelligent and effective communicators.


World Economic Forum senior writer, Alex Gray explains, ‘With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, employees are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes.’ Humans have the advantage of creativity, a skill robots do not currently hold. As such, there will be a place for creatives who think beyond what we know. Creativity is more than being artsy; it also relies on being able to connect the dots, relate data into practical solutions and present new answers.

To become more creative, exercise your curiosity! Let your thoughts wonder, and try to answer the unanswered questions in your sphere.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking refers to logic and reasoning, weighing and interrogating options, considering various solutions and weighing the efficacy of them.

Complex problem-solving

The report defines this skill as the ability to ‘to solve novel, ill-defined problems in complex, real-world settings.’ Essentially, this relies on the ability to solve issues that may not yet exist, or that have never been seen before, and solve them fast. One needs to see the big picture, but also understand minute details, how they fit together and how decisions will affect them.

What do you think about these skills of the future? Let us know in the comments below!

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