Top 10 In-Demand Skills for the Future Workplace

Scholarship Guide top skills in demand girl

In recent years, tremendous changes are happening in the job market. By the time you graduate from university, employers will be looking for skill sets that are different from those who are currently established in their careers.

A World Economic Forum report, ‘The Future of Jobs’, stated that by 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution would have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics. It surveyed chief human resources and strategy officers from more than 350 employers across nine industries in 15 of the world’s largest economies to come up with predictions about how technological advancements will force the labour markets to evolve.

Here’s a look at the top 10 skill sets respondents said will be most in-demand by 2020.

Complex Problem Solving

This is defined as the developed capacities used to solve novel, ill-defined problems in complex, real-world settings. One is required to identify problems and review related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. 36 percent of all jobs across all industries are expected to require this core skill by 2020, according to the report.

Critical Thinking

A critical thinker is able to use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions and approaches to problems. This is a skill that will be highly wanted.


This is the ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation or to develop creative ways to solve a problem. It moved from the 10th spot in the 2015 rankings to the top three skills employers are seeking in 2020.

People Management

People management entails being able to motivate people, develop employees, and identify the best people for the job. Happy employees like themselves and what they do, and they find satisfaction from their work. Such feelings reduce stress, which is a major factor in productivity.

Coordinating with Others

Skills of coordinating include the capacity to organise one’s own work and to link it with the overall workflow. Coordinating includes attending to several activities simultaneously, prioritising and switching priorities as necessary. It includes interweaving your work programme with the workstreams of others.

Emotional Intelligence

EQ is usually the missing link as to why people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigates social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Being sensitive to others’ reactions and understand why they react in certain ways will become a necessary skill for workers in the near future.

Judgement and Decision-Making

This is the ability to analyse data in order to make decisions. As companies increasingly collect more data, there will be a greater need for employees who have the ability to filter the data and use it to strategise and make wise decisions.

Service Orientation

Service orientation is defined in the report as actively looking for ways to help others. Staff with such skills are even more important as robots and automation take on more jobs.

‘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,’ the paper states.

Negotiation Skills

In the workplace, you will work with many people every day. Strong interpersonal skills will enable you to communicate and work with all types of people, including managers, coworkers, and customers. Even in computer and mathematical jobs, such as data analysts and software developers, which previously did not seem to require much negotiation skills, will need these in the new era. It will also be a key skill in the arts and design job category, which includes commercial and industrial someone you want to be sure to meet.

Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to be able to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. According to the report, respondents said that 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.

Rena Wong