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6 future work skills you should be developing now

If there is one thing we have learned in 2020, it is to prepare for the unexpected and to not take anything for granted. The companies that have shown the most flexibility and adaptability are the ones that are managing to stay afloat, and employers increasingly expect a workforce willing to rise to the challenge.

Here is a list of the skills that recruitment experts agree will be most in demand during the 2020s.

1. Emotional intelligence

This is the ability to recognise your emotions, and those of others, in a positive way. Being able to manage your emotions and read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them will help you adapt to new environments and situations well. Developing emotional intelligence will help you approach challenges from other people’s perspectives and will put you in high esteem with your managers and co-workers. Employers place high value on emotional intelligence because it translates into effective team working, good stakeholder management, and helps build better relationships.

2. Creativity

You don’t need to be a Picasso or a Mozart to call yourself creative. Creativity in the workplace can also be described as the ability to help find and develop solutions to problems in original ways, and this applies to all industries. Creative individuals with initiative bring new ideas to any business, or they come up with solutions to problems that do not have an obvious solution. Organisations benefit from creative solutions because they bring a fresh approach that can lead to new opportunities or improved prospects. Fostering this culture of innovation can help safeguard businesses against unexpected challenges.

3. Flexibility and adaptability

Being flexible and adaptable means coping with changing circumstances and environments, taking on board new concepts and ideas, and changing how you approach your job. This may mean doing your tasks using a new system or in a different order than you are used to. Employers will be looking for people who are able to harness a need to adapt to a new situation as a positive change and use it as an opportunity to stimulate improvements and better outcomes.

4. Data literacy

Data literacy is more enmeshed in our day-to-day lives than we realise. The current estimate of global daily data production stands at 1,145 trillion MB per day. Data literacy is knowing how to interpret data and how to use it as a decision-making tool, and many companies are now aware of how crucial data is to their success. The complexity of data analysis means that it requires some knowledge of mathematics and statistics. To cope with this complexity, whilst many organisations are hiring in-house data scientists with advanced analytical skills, an increasing number of organisations are demanding a degree of data literacy from all employees.

5. Tech savvy

Once upon a time being tech savvy meant a general working knowledge of Office, using email, and having an Outlook calendar. Nowadays, employees are expected to instinctively navigate thousands of digital platforms. For example, in marketing alone there are 8,000 different systems to choose from (in 2015 there were just 2,000). It is unrealistic to expect employees to be proficient users in all the tools available, however as a minimum requirement you should have an awareness of the different categories of platforms in your industry and working knowledge of how these contribute to your organisation’s success. For some positions, you should find out which are the most in-demand platforms and learn how to use them.

6. Cross-cultural competency

Professional environments are increasingly globalised. Most companies now count different languages, religions and customs among the employees, and customers and suppliers are increasingly dispersed geographically.

As a result, employers expect their workers to  conduct harmonious and efficient working partnerships across different cultures. In practice this means having a critical understanding of your own and other cultures, and an awareness of how this translates into interactions between them. Intercultural competence is key to the success of both internationalisation and the success of personal and professional relations in the new globalised world.

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