The 5 Most Important and Critical Skills for Jobs of the Future

critical skills for jobs of the future

“Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself.” – Denis Waitley

According to the World Economic Forum, five years from now, over one-third of the skills that are important on the job today will have become irrelevant. That means some of your employees could find their jobs being phased out in the coming years.

Through active leadership, you can support your direct reports through these transitions. If you’ve realized that one of your employees has a job that will become obsolete in the foreseeable future, it’s time to take action. You need to proactively help him develop a strategy for remaining marketable and valuable, helping him define a viable pathway for his career. Recently I shared insights on which skills will be most critical for jobs of the future. By helping your employees develop those skills, you’ll help open new opportunities for them in the years to come.

Embarking on a new career pathway takes courage, especially if it’s substantially different from what this individual once envisioned for himself. However, he can probably still use many of the same key competencies that help him excel in his current role—he just may need to use them in different ways. Reassure your employee that while his job may be phased out, talent never will.

1. Assess the key skills to develop.

Take a skills inventory. Sit down with the employee and list all of the skills she uses on the job. Then, circle the ones that won’t be necessary in the coming years (or that will be dramatically less critical). Underline the skills that will remain valuable.

Then, determine which of the skills in both groups can be upgraded, and what types of updates need to be made. Make a list of these skills. Then, detail the specific upgrades your employee needs to make for each one.

Now, help your employee to identify a niche area of focus, based on the skillset she aims to develop. Your employee will become more valuable when she can clearly define her niche area of skill and expertise.

2. Make introductions.

Introduce your employee to people who can provide direction, guidance, and tips for enhancing his skillset. They might be people in your company, such as leaders in other departments or your boss’s boss. You can also help your employee to network with other leaders outside of your organization, such as a colleague from another company or peers from an industry association. If your company will not be able to keep the employee on its staff, make introductions to leaders at other organizations that could benefit from his skillset.

3. Promote self-confidence and leadership ability.

Help your employee develop the confident, assertive demeanor that will prepare him to step into a new type of position—including a managerial role. If the technical skills she used on the job are being phased out, cultivating her leadership potential and belief in herself will make her an asset to the organization at a higher level in the future. These critical job skills will help her to not only retain a position with your company, but to advance through the ranks. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Give her the opportunity to mentor others. Determine several useful skills that she has mastered, then pair her with another employee who wants to develop them. The other employee doesn’t necessarily need to be less experienced—this is a great opportunity for peer-mentoring, in which two employees mentor each other in skills they want to develop.
  • Ask her to deliver presentations in meetings. Help your employee to hone her confidence and ability to speak in front of groups by presenting on topics she knows a lot about. For instance, she could deliver a report-back on your team’s recent project or give a mini workshop on a topic you want everyone to learn about.

4. Foster collaboration.

Talk with managers in other departments about how to enhance your employees’ ability to collaborate on multidisciplinary teams. Make cross-functional team-building a core priority, assembling task forces where employees from divergent functions can act as advisors to one another. This will help them get in the mindset of thinking creatively about how they can collaborate together, and looking for opportunities to serve as advisors to colleagues from other departments. By doing so, they’ll remain relevant and effective throughout the coming transitions.

If you supervise other managers, encourage them to have these conversations with their employees so everyone in your organization maintains a relevant and valuable skillset.

5. Provide learning resources.

Identify trade associations that publish valuable research and hold conferences in your employee’s field (or the field he wants to transition into). Support his growth by covering the costs of conference attendance, if possible. Also point him toward certification courses that can expand his skillset, covering these expenses if that is feasible for your organization.

As you take these steps, your employee will develop the critical skill set for jobs of the future, and exciting new doors will open. Most importantly, check on your employee’s progress frequently and act as a supportive coach whom he can turn to with any questions. You’ll soon see your employee blossom as a leader, ensuring he’ll remain an asset to your organization for years to come.

Joel can help each member of your team to upgrade their skill set so they’ll remain a valuable asset to your company. Contact him to learn how to get started today.

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