Looking Ahead: The Most Likely In-Demand Skills of the Future

Looking Ahead: The Most Likely In-Demand Skills of the Future
In view of the uncertainty that exists regarding the skills that are likely to be most in-demand in the future world of work, we frequently speak with our clients and associates to compare perspectives about what we can expect, the implications for employers, and the steps we can take to prepare now.

We recently spoke with Geoff Mulgan, CEO of Innovation charity Nesta and a World Economic Forum Global Leader. Geoff shared key results from a recently published report from Nesta, Oxford University and Pearson that examined the likely pattern of changes to employment and skills over the next 10-15 years. We’ve shared excerpts and highlights from our interview below.

What are the key trends likely to influence what skills will be in demand in the next 10-15 years?

There are a number of trends that will exercise a greater impact on our future skill requirements. These include technological change, demographics, globalisation, urbanisation, environmental sustainability, political uncertainty and increasing inequality, to name but a few.

According to your research report, what skills are most likely to become increasingly important in the years to 2030?

Interestingly, a number of skills we previously may have considered to be ‘high-end’ leadership requirements are now becoming essential for all in the workplace to possess. In addition to core skills such as communication and resilience becoming progressively vital, other skills that are likely to be in greater demand include:

  • Judgement and decision making
  • Fluency of ideas
  • Active learning
  • Systems evaluation
  • Originality
  • Learning strategies
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Complex problem solving
  • Systems analysis
  • Monitoring

Our future world of work will create completely new jobs, many that do not even exist yet. Did your research identify any new opportunities?

Yes, while not an exhaustive list, our report identified emerging occupations are likely to be linked to:

  • Fine arts
  • Originality
  • Design
  • Fluency of ideas
  • Visualisation

The closest existing UK occupations include those that are very creative or retail oriented.

To help prepare talent for future skill and job requirements, what role do employers play?

Both businesses and the Government play a vital role in supporting the changes that lie ahead. It’s well recognised that jobs in the 21st century are no longer static. Employers have a responsibility to help people to reinvent themselves and to take action to continue upskilling themselves. This involves significant investment in skills development. The UK could learn a lot from other countries – for example, Singapore is significantly embracing adult retraining, putting in place entitlements, incentives and support countries.

However, we must start preparing future talent at a younger age, to help even school children start to develop essential skills such as good communication and resilience. We must also provide students with exposure to the work environment early on. Businesses and schools will need to work more closely together to ensure all students are given equal opportunities for work experience.