There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for major changes to the way we work this year. What we all used to consider the “future of work” has quickly become our present reality, thanks to accelerated transformations, both digital and otherwise, occurring in response to the outbreak.
While businesses and their employees continue to navigate their way through this new working landscape on an almost day to day basis, it’s just as important to start considering the post-COVID future too.
According to the ‘Future of Jobs 2020’ report by the World Economic Forum, the workforce is automating faster than expected and could displace around 85m jobs by 2025. But that’s not all. New data from Allianz has also found that 75% of the global workforce could be millennials by 2025, which will bring new expectations to the modern workplace.
To ease the transition into this expected ‘new normal’, reskilling and upskilling is a must and should be done sooner rather than later. But just what skills will we all need in the post-pandemic future?
What are the top skills for the future?
While the demand for soft skills has gradually increased over the past decade, experts predict that the top skills needed for the workplace of 2025 will be a combination of both hard and soft skills.
With businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries embracing remote working like never before, it’s likely that this new way of working will outlast the pandemic and become less of a novelty. So understandably employers will require employees who can demonstrate flexibility- a skill many of us have honed in one way or another this year.
While flexibility in the workplace was once aligned to working hours and geographical mobility, it's now evolved into far more. Being flexible now also encompasses being able to work well under pressure, having an open mindset, adjusting to unexpected change and taking on additional responsibilities for the benefit of the wider team.
Unsurprisingly, specialist digital skills will be highly sought after in the post-COVID future as businesses start to use a wider myriad of technologies to function effectively. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the horizon, businesses will be keen to not only continue investing in new and emerging technologies but also in people who understand it.
Technologies such as AI, big data, robotics and AR are expected to help businesses build more resilience to future pandemics and anyone who is able to help utilise them will be in a fantastic position. Regardless of what your job role is, it will be essential for you to have knowledge and be comfortable using these tech tools moving forward.
The ability to make effective decisions and understand problems or scenarios by evaluating information is one that all businesses need, regardless of their size or industry. However, earlier this year, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 37% of employers considered critical thinking and problem-solving among some of the top soft skills candidates lacked in the workplace.
The report by the WEF states that critical and analytical thinking are some of the most important skills needed in a post-pandemic workforce and that it is one of the “competences of the 21st century.” So, if you really want to stand apart from your competition and get ahead in the post-pandemic workforce, developing this valuable skill is an absolute must.
Over time, data has become a critical asset for businesses and will continue to be valuable in the post-pandemic world, particularly as the Fourth Industrial Revolution draws closer. The right data can not only help businesses to better predict potential disruptions, such a future pandemics but can also ensure they’re providing their customers with the best possible service and products.
However, without employees with data literacy skills, this data is useless. This means that professionals who can read, understand and evaluate data and use this information in their decision making will be more appealing than ever before.
Leadership and emotional intelligence
In a world that is expected to be supported by machines and where social distancing and remote working is set to continue for the foreseeable future, professionals from all levels of a business will be in a position to lead others. The gig economy is expected to increase post-pandemic, along with more fluid teams where the leadership team isn’t necessarily set in stone.
As a result, professionals with strong leadership skills who can inspire and engage teams and encourage collaboration will be in demand with businesses post-COVID. Having an awareness of your own emotions and the emotions of others, otherwise known as emotional intelligence, is also a highly sought-after skill for leaders to possess, particularly during times of uncertainty.
Over the next five years, 35% of the skills we consider to be essential today will change, according to the WEF. So, there’s only one way to continue staying relevant in a post-COVID world; continuous learning. If you see your upskilling and reskilling as something you have to do continuously, there should be no reason why you won’t thrive in a post-COVID workplace.