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The 10 Skills You'll Need In The Workplace By 2020

Because it will be you versus robots in the near future
by Khatrina Bonagua | Jun 27, 2016
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By 2020, employers will look for workers with very different skill sets than what they have today.

In fact, more than one-third of desired skill sets of most jobs will be comprised of abilities that are not yet considered important to the workplace today, according to a recent World Economic Forum report.

Called “The Future of Jobs,” the report surveyed executives from more than 350 employers across nine industries in 15 of the world’s largest economies to come up with predictions on how technological advancements (robots, artificial intelligence, etc.) will force the labor markets to evolve.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 skill sets that will be most in demand in the near future:

1) Cognitive flexibility

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The ability of being able to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. According to the report, a wide range of jobs will require a higher level of cognitive abilities—which include creativity, logical reasoning, and problem sensitivity—as part of the core skill set.

This skill helps you adapt to new scenarios and of course, change. You may be asked to move to a foreign country, do new things in the workplace, or face last-minute change of plans. And if you are not able to shift your thinking stat, you’ll end up stressed and disoriented. Not an open-minded kind of person? Well, you have to be from now.

2) Negotiation

You need to brush up on your social skills as these are going to become even more important in the workforce. By 2020, negotiation skills will particularly be in high demand in computer and mathematical jobs, such as data analysts and software developers. It will also be key skill in the arts and design job category, which includes commercial and industrial designers.

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Why negotiate? Well, robots cannot debate for you, and disagreements may arise once people of differing beliefs try to do business. Without negotiation, such conflicts may lead to argument and resentment resulting in one or all of the parties feeling dissatisfied. The point of learning the art of negotiation is to try to reach agreements without causing future barriers to communications. Agree to disagree.

3) Service Orientation

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It's defined in the report as “actively looking for ways to help others” and also falls under the social skills umbrella. According to recent a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, strong social skills will continue to become more important as robots and automatons take more jobs.

"The reason is that computers are still very poor at simulating human interaction. Reading the minds of others and reacting is an unconscious process, and skill in social settings has evolved in humans over thousands of years. Human interaction in the workplace involves team production, with workers playing off of each other’s strengths and adapting flexibly to changing circumstances. Such non-routine interaction is at the heart of the human advantage over machines," stated the study.

Your social skills are your only hope against the robots, so you better amp up your interacting prowess.


4) Judgement and Decision Making

Judgment and decision making was ranked as the eight most in demand skill in 2015, but it will move up to the seventh spot by 2020. This particular skill set is considered a "system skill," which is the ability to analyze data to be able to make decisions. As organization increasingly collects more data, there will be a greater need for employees who have the ability to analyze then use it to make decisions.

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5) Emotional Intelligence

Robots may be able to do a lot of jobs, but they still can't read people the way other humans can—well, at least not yet. That is why it will become more important for you to have a higher level of emotional intelligence. The ability to be aware of others' reactions and to understand why they react certain ways will become a necessary skill for workers by 2020.

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6) Coordinating With Others

This one also falls under the social skill umbrella and entails the ability of being able to adjust actions in relation to others and to collaborate.

People Management

Motivate people, develop employees, and identify the best person for a job: The report notes that this skill set will be especially in demand for managers in the energy and media industries.

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8) Creativity

Creativity will move from the tenth spot in 2015 to the top three skills employers are seeking in 2020. With the influx of new technologies, creative people will be in demand to figure out ways to apply the new technology and create new products and services.

9) Critical Thinking

Being able to use logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of different solutions and approaches is a skill that will still be needed even though automation is becoming more prevalent.

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10) Complex Problem Solving

Even with the increase in data to help make decisions, people will still need the basic skill of being able to solve complex problems. Respondents to the survey ranked this skill as the most in demand in 2015 and it will remain the number one most desired skill four years from now. In fact, 36 percent of all jobs across all industries are expected to require complex problem-solving abilities as a core skill by 2020.


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