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Top 5 job skills you'll need for 2020

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 02 December 2019

2020’s right around the corner, and with it comes the changing needs of Australia’s workforce.

Keeping yourself updated on market trends, consumer demands and skills gaps across industries helps “future-proof” your career – such data offers insight into new skills you may need to stay relevant in your field. Automation and artificial intelligence are on the rise; making once-lucrative skills obsolete in our increasingly digitised economy. 

Thankfully, the World Economic Forum has published their most recent report on the most in-demand workplace skills for the 2020 global market.

SkillsTalk break down the top five skills of the study (in order of lowest to highest priority), and how to improve them to keep ahead of the curve. 

What are the top five skills you’ll need for 2020?

  1. Collaboration.
  2. People management.
  3. Creativity.
  4. Critical thinking.
  5. Complex problem-solving.

1. Collaboration.

Claiming fifth on the list, “co-ordination with others” is considered an essential workplace skill for any industry. Irreplaceable by technology and automation, collaborative abilities are crucial to ultimate business success. As stated by WEF’s report, “such non-routine interaction is at the heart of human advantage over machines.” 

Collaboration addresses the efficiency at which employees work together; sharing and communicating ideas while bouncing off each other’s strengths. It’s a skill that fosters innovation, growth and adaptability, leading to greater business results and employee satisfaction

A good collaborator holds excellent interpersonal skills, has a keen social awareness, and the ability to work with people of varying cultures and personalities.  

To get better at your collaborative skills, learn to speak your ideas and intentions with clarity – while listening to feedback and compromising when necessary. Collaboration also requires an understanding others’ mistakes, and overcoming challenges without assigning blame. 

According to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, local employers are aware of the benefits of collaboration – using such skills to enhance worker efficiency, foster a dynamic environment, and develop more creative methods of achieving company goals.

2. People management.

collaboration concept

Regardless of industry or company size, having proper management systems is fundamental to business success. 

Gallup research shows that 70% of employee engagement is derived from how they’re managed. Poor management often leads to damaging consequences; causing businesses to lose key, top-performing workers while bearing high financial loss from turnover and low productivity. 

To sharpen your people management skills, ensure effective communication is fostered in the workplace. Set clear expectations for your employees and provide feedback on their performance. Listen closely to their concerns, and provide appropriate solutions when necessary.

It’s also important to invest in your workers. Studies show that 37% of Australian employees regard training and development as a top “work perk” – so be sure to offer opportunities for progression and optimising (or expanding) their current skillset. 

Of course, play off your employees’ strengths and delegate people to the right projects and tasks. By matching workers to roles that best suit them, you’ll not only improve productivity – but their engagement in what they do. 

While primarily relevant to those in executive roles, anyone seeking career advancement requires some level of managerial skill. It’s a sign of your leadership abilities – sought-after in any worker. 

3. Creativity.

Yet another human ability that can’t be automated (or replaced) is creativity.

Creativity clocks in at the WEF’s third spot; and it’s clear to see why it’s so valuable. With an ever-changing landscape of new technologies, products, and services, businesses require ways of breaking through the noise

Machines and AI can now manage the mundane, routine processes that achieve predictable results – but creativity remains a novel skill; an exclusively human trait that drives new ideas and innovation. 

LinkedIn breaks down creativity into two main features: relevancy and novelty.

Relevancy refers to solving an existing, relevant problem. Without relevancy, a solution has no value – no matter how creative.

Novelty, on the other hand, refers to solving the problem in a new, original way. 

Together, they form creativity – the ability to solve problems in new, inventive ways. Creative minds are key to any company’s success, as they bring forth answers to current problems or gaps in the global marketplace. On a smaller scale, they help drive improvement in your current business practices, identifying issues and resolving them to spur further growth.

Whether you’re a current employee or a CEO, creativity will drive you bigger and better business results over time.

4. Critical thinking.

people working together

In second place, we have critical thinking

This involves skills in logic and reasoning, going hand-in-hand with creativity. A critical thinker can recognise problems that arise in a business, and take the appropriate steps to effectively resolve them. 

A variety of skills fall under critical thinking, including the ability to observe, evaluate, question, reason, and argue. When combined, employees can assess information they’re given with an analytical eye, drawing reasoned conclusions to further their knowledge or conduct the next best course of action.

While more highly applicable to certain roles (such as marketers who regularly monitor industry trends and consumer needs) – critical thinking is mandatory for all workers regardless of field or position

A more critical approach to everyday work tasks allows one to identify areas of inefficiency, conflict, or financial and management problems; helping the business develop solutions to improve services and internal operations

Such thinkers are thus desirable for any employer, as they further progress and display traits of self-reliance, confidence, and resourcefulness. 

5. Complex problem-solving.

Topping off the list is “complex problem-solving”, a skill that intertwines with both creativity and critical thinking.

Combine both previous skills together – and you’ll have the perfect recipe for solving complex business problems. Its top WEF ranking is no surprise, as all businesses require skilled problem solvers for both simple and complicated issues. In fact, the report states that more than one third (36%) of all jobs (globally) will require workers with complex problem-solving abilities

The ability to manage complex issues, and devise appropriate solutions in turn, demonstrates one’s ability to understand both the “big picture” and minute details. It shows both their intelligence and creativity in approaching problems that may not have risen before – especially in a constantly-evolving marketplace 

Developing your problem-solving skills requires a deeper understanding of problems that arise. It’s important to focus on the root cause of such issues, rather than the symptoms – helping you solve their true cause. This approach not only helps you solve the problem, but prevents potential recurrence. 

It’s also worth noting that complex issues don’t necessarily require complex solutions. While it helps to develop solutions from new perspectives, the best answers to certain problems are sometimes best kept simple; creating a more efficient problem-solving process.

Looking to improve your skillset for 2020?

While technological advancements and consumer trends are bound to create new employment opportunities, such changes will also displace currently existing roles. 

To keep in line with these developments, upskilling is a highly-recommended method of improving your skillsets and maintaining employability. 

Upskilled offers over 80 qualifications across a wide spectrum of industries, from community services to information technology. With courses being 100% online, students can equip themselves with in-demand workforce skills at their own pace and schedule.

Secure your future in employment, and upskill with a course today. 
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