How to adapt in our changing digital worldRecent research conducted by Manpower indicates we are in the middle of a ‘skills revolution’, both in Australia and around the world. With digital transformation happening within most organisations, and technology evolving rapidly, the types of skills employees need are ever-changing. So what will the most in-demand skills be and how do you ensure you have them?

With the necessary skills changing at a rapidly increasing pace, most employers are reporting that they cannot find the talent they need. The people in demand are those that seek to continuously learn and adapt.

A recent Manpower survey asked 20,000 employers across 42 countries (with more than 1,500 participating companies from Australia) about the likely impact of automation on their headcount, the functions that will be most affected, and the human skills they value the most. The results indicate that automation is mostly a good thing for employees (as long as you have the right skills). While many companies agree that no one is immune from digitisation as more and more industries shift to advanced, automated processes, most employers expect their companies to grow rather than shrink – and the need for additional people – especially those with good IT skills to drive transformation – is real.

Labour market predictions often talk about the long-term extremes where technology will erode jobs – with robots replacing roles and even the threat of a world without work. However, this recent research indicates a different future, while providing a real-time view of the impact of automation on the workforce in the digital age – now and in the near-term. It shows which functions within companies are set to grow or contract. And it provides insight on the value of soft skills – or human strengths – that are in demand by employers but that are challenging to find.

The most in-demand individuals have a blend of human strengths with technical and digital know-how. 8 out of 10 companies say communication skills, written and verbal, is their most valued soft skill. We’ve identified several other skills we think will be important for individuals to succeed.

  1. Complex problem-solving skills – with increasingly complex problems that include incomplete, contradictory or ever-evolving requirements, threats and trends – people who can solve problems with viable solutions will be in demand.
  2. Critical thinking – this can be defined as the objective analysis of facts to form a judgement. Often the subject is complex and requires analysis or evaluation of vast amounts of information. In today’s ‘information age’, data is present everywhere – with companies collecting huge amounts of data about everything their customers do on a day-to-day basis. Being able to leverage and effectively utilise this data for competitive advantage is a key skill to possess.
  3. Creativity and innovation – competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done doesn’t cut it. Having the ability to think outside the box to achieve success is a top skill to possess.
  4. Collaboration – working well with others and appreciating the input from different team members is essential in today’s work environment. Human interaction in the workplace will become more and more important as computers and robots take over certain tasks. Being able to work together to leverage individual’s strengths while being aware of weaknesses and adapting to address these will be important.
  5. Leadership – regardless of how much an organisation and its day-to-day operations become ‘automated’, employees will remain at the heart. Being able to develop strong relationships with employees and successfully lead teams is important. Listening carefully to understand concerns; identifying ways you can help them become more efficient, effective and enthusiastic; and developing and maintaining strong ongoing professional relationships is key. Good leaders consistently provide support and show their team they are there for them. It is more vital than ever for future leaders to know how to motivate teams, maximise productivity and respond quickly and effectively to needs.
  6. Service orientation – digitisation, technological advancements, and increasing competition means customers will be picky – and rightly so. Customers can choose who to do business with and they can change that decision as often as they like. It’s no longer as difficult as it once might have been to switch suppliers or move to a different brand. People who make customer experience a priority, anticipating customer needs, and designing products and solutions to meet those needs, will be in demand.

As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear that we need to develop new skills if we’re going to keep pace with change. Employers will begin to rely more and more on people with the desire and ability to develop new skills. Employability today is becoming less about what you already know and more about your capacity to learn.

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