Jobs and work are going through a major transformation right now — with millions of roles potentially being eliminated or created in the coming years, according to non-governmental organization the World Economic Forum.
This relates to a wide range of reasons, from technological advancements to climate change. But one thing is certain: many workers will have to adapt.
Having the skills to navigate this change — and maybe even new job requirements — is therefore crucial.
In its latest "Future of Jobs" report, WEF lays out which skills are key right now, and which will become vital in the coming years. The report is based in a survey of 803 companies in 27 industry clusters in 45 different economies.
Analytical and creative thinking skills take the top spots for what companies are expecting from workers right now. Self-efficacy skills, including being resilient, flexible and agile, being motivated and self-aware, and curious and committed to lifelong learning, round out the top five.
This is "in recognition of the importance of workers ability to adapt to disrupted workplaces," the report said.
Only one technology-related skill — technological literacy — makes it into the top 10 at sixth place. The ability to understand and work with AI and big data currently ranks 15th .
The newest ranking reflects some changes from the last iteration of this survey, which was published in 2020.
"Comparisons to previous surveys suggest that creative thinking is increasing in importance relative to analytical thinking as workplace tasks become increasingly automated," the report said.
"In 2018 and 2020, the number of surveyed companies that considered analytical thinking to be a core skill outnumbered those considering creative thinking to be a core skill by a margin of 35% and 38%, respectively. That gap has now decreased to 21% and may continue to close."
Further shifts to which skills are expected to be most in demand are expected, according to WEF. "Employers estimate that 44% of workers' skills will be disrupted in the next five years," the report said.
Creative thinking is the skill that is expected to increase in importance the most, followed by analytical thinking and technological literacy. The latter is especially important as technological developments will be a key driver of new jobs emerging and existing ones being eliminated, which the WEF report also covers.
AI and big data knowledge comes in seventh place as the sector has been booming recently, raising concerns about how disruptive artificial intelligence will be to jobs. Soft skills like curiosity and lifelong learning, and resilience, flexibility and agility are also set to become increasingly vital for workers, coming in fourth and fifth place respectively.
On the other side of the scale, physical skills are among those that could be less important in the future.
"While respondents judged no skills to be in net decline, sizable minorities of companies judge reading, writing and mathematics; global citizenship; sensory-processing abilities; and manual dexterity, endurance and precision to be of declining importance for their workers," the report said.
The top 10 most important skills
These are the 10 most important skills for workers this year, according to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs report.
1. Analytical thinking
2. Creative thinking
3. Resilience, flexibility, and agility
4. Motivation and self-awareness
5. Curiosity and lifelong learning
6. Technological literacy
7. Dependability and attention to detail
8. Empathy and active listening
9. Leadership and social influence
10. Quality control