What Are The Top 10 Soft Skills For The Future Of Work?
The future of work is likely to herald a wide range of new jobs, many of which we can scarcely conceive today (although that hasn’t stopped consultancy firm Cognizant having a go). There has been understandable attention given to the kind of skills these jobs might require. For instance, at the tail end of last year, the University of Memphis proposed that collaborative problem solving would be the most important skill in the coming decades.
“Collaborative problem solving is an essential skill in the workforce and the community because many of the problems faced in the modern world require teams to integrate group achievements with team members’ idiosyncratic knowledge,” the researchers explain.
This emphasis on soft skills also emerged in a new analysis performed by the online learning provider Udemy. They investigated the courses that companies are requiring employees take today to try and gauge a better understanding of where skills shortages exist today.
Obviously technical skills remain highly sought after, so that probably goes without saying, hence the Udemy team focused exclusively on soft skills. These are the kind of skills that previous studies have suggested are crucial as technology takes on many of the hard, technical skills. Indeed, previous studies have argued that a sufficient investment in more human, softer skills such as leadership, creativity, emotional intelligence and critical thinking would significantly reduce the number of jobs lost to automation. Indeed, if investment in training for these skills could be doubled, then the number of jobs at risk from automation would fall from 10% to 4%.
The right soft skills
So what are the most important soft skills according to Udemy? Here is their top 10.
- Conflict management – Conflict management is perhaps an unlikely skill to come out on top, but the Udemy team highlight how complex the modern workplace is. They often contain multiple generations, various technologies, different nationaities and cultures, and of course an ever changing marketplace. This places a huge range of priorities, working styles and communication preferences into the workplace, which can result in conflict. Indeed, data suggests that the typical worker spends nearly three hours every week dealing with some kind of conflict. Dealing with Conflict at Work: Real World Strategies & Tools is the Udemy course to help you develop this skill.
- Time management – This is perhaps less surprising, especially given the complexity of modern working life. Being able to manage your time effectively in the face of so many competing demands is vital. Productivity and Time Management for the Overwhelmed is th Udemy course for this.
- Stress management – Being able to cope with stress is something I’ve touched upon a few times in the past year or so, as the mental health of employees has become an ever greater focus. The fallout of excess stress levels is said to cost up to $190 billion a year, so it’s vital that organizations handle it better. Stress Management: 40+ easy ways to deal with stress is the Udemy offering on this.
- Communication skills – This is perhaps not that surprising as written and verbal communication is now such a big part of modern work. It is made even more so with the huge diversity in the modern workforce. Udemy offer a range of courses in this area, including 7 Scientifically Proven Steps to Increase Your Influence, Cross-Cultural Communication: How To Flex Your Style, Life Progression Project, Acumen Presents: Kim Scott on Radical Candor.
- Company culture – The 5th skill is more for HR managers to consider than front line staff, but revolves around the importance of building the right culture at the company. This has been shown by numerous studies to be hugely important to company success, and Building a Culture of Freedom & Responsibility is Udemy’s course to help you do just that.
- Customer service – Whilst this skill obviously has the biggest value for those in direct, customer-facing roles, in reality most of us have customers of some sort, whether internally or with suppliers. It’s probably a skill we can all brush up on therefore, although Udemy’s 5 Essential Soft Skills for Every Customer-Facing Team course is clearly aimed at those on the front line.
- Emotional intelligence – Now this is something of a surprise, as emotional intelligence is something that has cropped up in a huge number of studies in recent years, so I’m surprised to see it as low as 7th in this ranking. This could be due to the difficulty in providing a course to teach it of course, but for those who wish to try, Udemy offer a 21 Day Crash Course in Emotional Intelligence.
- Personal productivity – Being able to get the most from your working day is crucial given the growing demands placed upon us. Udemy’s Modern Productivity: Superhuman Focus in a Distracted World course provides a clear focus on focus, and helps us to block out the numerous distractions vying for our attention.
- Storytelling – This is perhaps a less heralded skill, but I’ve worked with numerous technical teams, and their ability to communicate what they do to lay audiences is vital for digital transformation to occur, so storytelling is perhaps an underrated skill to possess. Storytelling for Business is the course offered by Udemy to help.
- Change management – The final skill in the list revolves around change, which numerous studies have shown is ever-present, yet equally often flunked. Being able to change effectively is therefore a skill that will rarely go out of demand. The Ultimate Disruption Playbook is Udemy’s offering to assist you.
Suffice to say, this list is always going to be skewed by the courses actually on offer by Udemy, so there will always be that caveat, but it nonetheless should provide some inspiration for your personal development in the coming year.