Do you remember our article “What are the top skills of the future?“
In relation to that topic, we had the pleasure to interview Isabelle Chappuis, Executive Director of the Swiss Center for Positive Futures and author of the book “HR Futures 2030: A Design for Future-Ready Human Resources”.
Find out below what Isabelle Chappuis has to say about top skills and why studying should continue all lifelong!
1. In three words, what does “top skills” mean to you? Why?
Top skills will depend on our environment. What we know now is that our working environment is changing very rapidly and this is what we need to focus on: how is the world of work evolving and how can we remain relevant within it.
There are no top skills per se. There are skills in demand today, and there are skills that will be in demand tomorrow. And there are meta skills which transcend the context and which we need to continuously develop. And we need all three of them.
We have many ways to structure skills and abilities. So, to be very short and concise using 3 types of skills (not 3 words), I would say:
- ability to navigate change (resilience is one key skill here),
- future-proof functional skills (we all need to keep functioning in the current economy and in our current jobs – functional skills remain key but need to evolve, learning in the flow of work) and
- ability to anticipate and shape the future (the future does not exist, we have to shape it. We have to learn how to use the future in the present – this calls for future literacy skills.)
2. In this fast-changing world, what do you think will be the top skills of the future? Will it be more about technical skills or soft skills?
Here again, it is not either-or. We will need both. Yet it is smart to look at skills that will increasingly be mastered by machines as opposed to those who are (still) typically human.
For example, while analytical thinking and problem-solving skills may still be very useful today (and usually very high on recruiters’ lists), with time, as the world’s complexity increases, skills like managing ambiguity, creativity or empathy will be increasingly relevant.
I would also add that there are new nuances which we should introduce in our conception of skills. Technical skills represent our ability to use numbers or tools. Soft skills represent our ability to interact with humans.
One growing skill type will be “fusion skills”, which represents our ability to interact with machines. The objective here is for us to merge two types of intelligences, that is: augment our biological intelligence thanks to the access we have to artificial intelligence. The idea here is to really collaborate with machines, not against them or merely use them or work next to them, but with them.
3. According to the Economic Forum, 94% of business leaders recognize that their employees lack new skills on the job. In your opinion, what strategies could be helpful for these companies?
Here we are talking about today and the current skills shortage. If we want to overcome that issue, we need to accept that the life as we knew it has disappeared. We no longer live in a three-stage life (study, work, retire), but in a very uncertain life that will offer various layers of studying, working, and retiring… at several stages of life. What we learn in the 20 first years of our lives will no longer hold until the end of our 100-year lives. In this new context, studying needs to happen all lifelong and it is a responsibility jointly carried by the State, individuals and their employers. Companies should empower continuing education and introduce learning in the flow of work.
One of HR’s many growing challenges will increasingly be about retaining the good talents, training those who need it and attracting new ones. The talent challenge will be a daunting one: Keeping the best ones will require from companies to build dynamic workforce engagement and improve their employee experience; attracting new ones will call for a stronger employer’s brand. If social media shifted marketing power from the brand to the customer, the brand power has also shifted from employers to employees. Companies will have to transform their employees into “employer’s brand” ambassadors for a broader and more effective visibility and impact – in physical reality and in extended realities, often referred to as the Metaverse.
Having the right talents with the right skills will be a key competitive advantage. In a world of work defined by growing blurred lines between private life and professional life, by evolving skills requirements, the rise of the gig-economy and by the end of the three-stage-life, the psychological contract between employees and employers, exchanging loyalty for security is giving way to a new contract based on the exchange of performance and engagement for a promise of increased employability and career guidance. If 94% of business leaders recognize that their employees lack new skills on the job, it is time for them to work at identifying their future needs in terms of skills and invest in in their greatest asset – their employees!
Do you want to know more about future jobs and top skills? Check out Isabelle’s new book, co-authored with her colleague Gabriele Rizzo: “HR Futures 2030: A Design for Future-Ready Human Resources”; information available on: www.hrfutures2030.com.
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