13 Future Skills for the Workplace (Plus Strategies)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

With the rise of technology, automation, and globalization, the workplace is changing. One way to advance your career in this new environment is to develop skills that can serve you in the future. Understanding what future skills are and how you can develop those skills can help you advance your career by showing potential employers that you're a qualified candidate. In this article, we explain what future skills are, describe their importance in the workplace, and explore the skills that can help you become a more competitive job applicant.

What are future skills?

Future skills are those that can help you solve problems and react successfully to situations. While technological advances affect each industry differently, these skills can help you adapt to the changing work environments of the future. Developing the cognitive, motivational, and social-based skills of the future can help you become a more qualified candidate and valuable employee.

Related: How to Learn Skills Online and Which Are Best to Learn

Why are future skills important?

Understanding and developing skills that future employers might look for can help increase your career success and improve your prospects. Significant recent technological advancements have changed the workforce dramatically, making many traditional skills obsolete. For example, with the advancements in computers and word processing programs, repairing typewriters is a skill that is no longer required. Unlike repairing typewriters, skills of the future are typically transferrable between industries, which makes them beneficial regardless of the career you're pursuing. These skills can also help you with the following:

  • Become more adaptable

  • Adjust to career changes and new environments

  • Succeed in a variety of settings

  • Improve your ability to work in teams

  • Offer greater benefits to companies that hire you

  • Help you thrive in a changing labour market

Related: How to Write a Skills-Based Resume

13 skills you can use in a future workplace

Here are the skills that future employers may increasingly look for in candidates:

Analytical thinking

Analytical thinking is the ability to categorize information into smaller parts to better interpret it to come to more accurate conclusions. Many careers rely on this skill for research, problem-solving, and trend prediction. The ability to think analytically can help improve your decision-making skills, which often makes you a more reliable and effective employee. You can develop these skills by being more observant of your surroundings and putting effort into understanding the way systems work.

Cognitive flexibility

Cognitive skills are those you use to complete everyday tasks like thinking, learning, reading, remembering, speaking, listening, and paying attention. Individuals with cognitive flexibility use comprehension and observation abilities to multitask and adapt their behaviour to different environments. These skills can help you adapt to meet goals or adjust to various tasks or changes in the work environment. People with cognitive flexibility are often easy to work with and are effective team members, making this an important skill for job candidates.

Communication

Strong written and oral communication skills are usually necessary for almost all jobs. They allow you to interpret meaning from written and spoken language and convey ideas effectively to others. In the workplace, communication is key to collaborating with colleagues and achieving company goals, for example, increasing productivity and sales.

Complex problem-solving

Businesses face complex problems every day, which makes it important that they hire employees who can develop creative solutions. Employers look for people who can solve problems and consider the impact the solution may have on the surrounding environment and individuals involved. You can improve your complex problem-solving skills by developing your critical thinking, research, and analytical abilities.

Creativity

Creativity helps you to look at issues differently and think of original solutions. Creativity involves creative thinking, where you use your imagination to develop new ideas or concepts. Creative people are valuable employees because they help develop innovative solutions and often have excellent problem-solving skills. Creativity is a skill that many employers look for in every industry, as it's something only people can perform.

Decision making

Knowing how to make well-informed decisions can help you save time, make the best use of resources, and become a better leader. Though digital technology can help with data analysis and task optimization, the ability to understand and interpret results is still an important skill to have. Being able to analyze alternatives and make effective decisions can help you contribute to a company's goals. You can improve your decision-making skills by exploring examples, asking for advice, and having confidence in your decisions.

Read more: What Are Decision-Making Skills and How to Improve Them

Digital literacy

Digital literacy is a skill that's increasingly important as technology in the workplace advances. Being digitally literate means understanding terminology and navigating various digital platforms, including social networks and mobile applications. These skills can help you use technology productively and safely. Employers may seek technologically competent employees, as digital literacy improves a candidate's ability to learn new software. To develop digital skills, you can take courses in information technology and science or participate in workshops that focus on new technologies like artificial intelligence or blockchain.

Related: Computer Literacy in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a skill that helps you identify and regulate your own emotions and understand and sympathize with others. These abilities are valuable in a workplace because they can help you understand others, resolve conflict, reduce stress, and improve the overall work environment. Having strong emotional intelligence allows you to empathize and collaborate with others, maintain boundaries, and increase self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. You can develop or improve your emotional intelligence by considering various perspectives, listening to, and trusting the advice of others, and trying to find the optimal compromise when there is a disagreement.

Leadership

Effective leaders often possess qualities of responsibility, initiative, and integrity. Honing your leadership skills is important for employees at all levels of an organization, not just for those who supervise others. Employers look for strong leadership abilities in candidates, as these skills aid in collaboration, goal setting, and time management. You can improve your leadership skills by working on active listening, learning from others, and motivating colleagues.

Interpersonal skills

Employers often seek candidates with interpersonal skills, including active listening, dependability, empathy, verbal and nonverbal communication abilities, and flexibility. In the workplace, these skills can help you build healthy professional relationships with managers, colleagues, and clients. Developing your interpersonal skills can help you manage a team more effectively, as it improves your ability to express appreciation, resolve disputes, and collaborate with others. You can develop these skills by practising self-awareness, engaging in active listening, and asking for feedback about your behaviours and interactions with others.

Self-management

Self-management is the ability to understand your responsibilities and hold yourself accountable for completing tasks, meeting deadlines, and fulfilling those responsibilities. Aspects of self-management include the ability to work under pressure, successfully manage time, organize and complete tasks, and motivate yourself to success. You can develop this skill by staying accountable to the goals and timelines you set for yourself and by using tools to become more organized.

Social intelligence

Social intelligence refers to your ability to understand and manage interpersonal relationships. It relies on the ability to understand and interpret the feelings, thoughts, and behaviours of other people. Employers may seek job applicants with high social intelligence because they are typically good listeners and can adapt to different social situations. By understanding how to interact with many distinct personality types, people with this skill can learn to play different social roles, depending on the situation. For example, you might be more candid in an internal staff meeting than during a presentation to a client.

Technical design

These skills help you create, understand, and improve digital user experiences. Employers look for people with technical design skills to help them map a customer's journey, develop software and websites, and help improve the overall technological experience. Developing a technical skill set can help increase your career opportunities and make you a more attractive job candidate.

Strategies for learning new skills

You can use these strategies to learn new skills and improve your chances of appealing to future hiring managers:

  • Set a goal: Determine which skills you want to improve and explore approaches to achieving your goal. For example, if you want to develop your technical design skills, your goal might include learning more about the features of an effective user experience.

  • Be an active learner: Active learning is an education strategy that uses activities to help you engage with the topic you're trying to learn. You can develop your skills using active learning by engaging in discussions, role-play scenarios, or other problem-solving activities.

  • Focus on one skill: Learning a new skill can feel overwhelming. Separating the skill into smaller, achievable increments and focusing on one skill at a time can help you learn and practise implementing your new ability.


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