Think fast: Even predicted skillsets are changing quickly

2022 Skills Outlook

by Jennifer Gardner

Just as we celebrate the Association’s Human Intelligence series one-year anniversary, the World Economic Forum decides to shake things up a bit.

Over the past year, the series has explored leadership, emotional intelligence, creativity, active listening, decision making and many more skills that aligned with the World Economic Forum’s top 10 skills for 2020. And now the WEF has released a new skills outlook in the Future of Jobs Report 2018. In it, it shared growing and declining skills for 2022 — and a few of the skills that we covered in the first year of our Human Intelligence series are starting to decline in importance.

When I first saw the list, I thought: What happened? Why don’t we need to listen anymore? What about managing people? But after reflecting on the changes, I believe this is evidence of the rapid pace of change we’re currently experiencing in every facet of work, and we can expect the speed that these changes occur to only accelerate from here. How do we approach our professional development? Which skills and competencies do we focus on? While several of the skills on this new list feel rather technical in nature, it’s safe to say that our human skills will continue to be important. We’re just seeing a change in focus of how we use them.

Two skills are surprisingly not on the list for 2022: adaptability and resiliency. This feels like a gross oversight since being resilient and adaptive can help us cope with change. To me, it feels logical that getting better at managing change would only help us succeed in 2022 and beyond. Not to mention curiosity, a growth mindset and a willingness to experiment and explore new opportunities — these have all been invaluable skills that have withstood the test of time. There’s no question that each industrial revolution has resulted in new jobs requiring new skills. And although the list of in-demand skills will likely change over time, being able to adapt will always be a human imperative — one that goes back much further than even the first industrial revolution.

For example, I grew up north of Boston, where industries like shoemaking and textiles thrived during the first industrial revolution. Today, when you think of the industries surrounding Boston, you probably don’t think of shoes,unless you’re a fan of New Balance. Instead, the industries that come to mind are tech, biotech, finance, education and medicine. Now, many of these factory buildings house new companies that have adapted to the changing economy, and some have been transformed into condominiums and a contemporary art museum.

The skills specific to the shoemaking and the textile industry likely aren’t among the skillset of someone working in tech or biotech. Except, of course, the human skills those workers cultivated and used to succeed. These industries which appear to be so different on the surface all require creativity, problem-solving, leadership, ideation, social influence and innovation. Now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our human skills remain in demand. According to the 2018 Future of Jobs report, we’ll be working with robots — not replaced by robots. Our uniquely human skills will still have value in the workplace, and that value is expected to increase. As humans, we outperform machines in innovation, empathy, creativity, intuition, leadership and social intelligence.

Where the biggest change will occur is in the growth of the freelance and independent workforce. It’s likely the company you’ll be working for will be your own. Many companies won’t be investing in reskilling staff to fill the new jobs created. Instead they’ll look to the independent workforce, making your learning even more important to your future than ever. According to the World Economic Forum, we’ll need an extra 101 days of learning by 2022.

Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be done in one chunk. You can chip away at it every day by incorporating learning opportunities into your daily activities: reading; listening to podcasts and flash briefings; and watching YouTube videos. We’ll continue to bring you expert insights in our Human Intelligence series. And you can expect our playlist to grow with interviews on ideation, learning, social influence and more, along with podcast interviews on the technologies changing our work. Together, we’ll go beyond disruption and thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Find resources to help you stay relevant in the future including interviews with experts in our  Human Intelligence  series and the  Go beyond disruption  podcast.