Essential Skills in the Future—and Why

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In a future where machines seem to be taking the place of humans, ‘human skills’ become increasingly important. These are the skills that would take years to be replicated by machines if it becomes possible down the road. Creative problem solving tops the list of most essential skills in 2020.

The ability to look at problems from different perspectives and come up with effective solutions is a valuable skill to have, given the increasing number of technological innovations that could crop up in the next few decades.

Making sense of huge amounts of data will also be a huge factor of candidates who are looking to enter the IT sector, as more decisions will be based on data gathered from our mobile devices based on our usage of technology. Aspiring software developers and programmers need to cultivate a deep sense of critical thinking and creativity to gain an edge in the future.

While half of the skills needed to thrive in the future are related to cognitive functioning, the other half are more connected to making human connections at work. Collaborating with others on huge projects is a must, as more and more companies will be utilizing agile strategies with their teams to accomplish their goals.

Self-awareness or knowing what you feel and managing your emotions is also a top requirement in the future, especially for leadership and managerial positions. Companies will try to keep up with the pace of technology, and they’ll need more competent and flexible leaders that can take on many hats to rally their team and steer the company in the right direction.

Just as industries will emerge, various jobs will also appear, while others will get replaced by machines or disappear. In a blog post by World Economic Forum, the top 5 job families that will take a hit in the in the next five years are installation/ maintenance, construction, creatives/media, manufacturing/ production, and office/administrative jobs.

There is no certainty which exact jobs will see a decline in the next few years, but based on trends, the most affected jobs are those that are now being done by machines.

As work takes on a more abstract instead of physical nature, it’s important to learn the skills necessary to switch careers in the future.

Does this mean that machines will eventually replace humans?

This is a common theory that is popularized by Hollywood movies and sci-fi stories: machines will rise in rebellion against humans. While this would make for a dramatic storyline, it’s unlikely to happen. What’s interesting is the collaboration of human and machine to achieve tasks creatively at a faster rate.

For instance, Toyota has been going the other direction and replacing its robots with humans. Why? Robots may be faster, but humans are capable of innovation and coming up with ideas that ultimately results in improvement.

Creativity is one skill that even AI is struggling to replicate, which is why it will be one of the skills a future worker needs to succeed in the future.


Author and futurist, Alvin Toffler, once said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

The coming of the fourth industrial revolution will disrupt many industries and kill many jobs, but it doesn’t necessarily spell doom. Investing in skills that will still be relevant even after 5 or 10 years from now is a good move in securing your spot in the workforce of tomorrow.

These are all important things to consider when hiring someone to be a part of your company. Remember, hard skills can be learned, but soft skills like attitude, mindset, and people management skills, are the things that set us apart from a machine of codes and algorithms, are the ones that will matter the most in the future workplace.


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