50% of Specialists Will Need Reskilling By 2027
Every two years, the World Economic Forum publishes the Future of Jobs Report. The 2023 edition analysed potential changes in the labour market up to 2027. This report is informed by surveys of executives and heads of HR and L&D departments from 803 companies.
In brief, employers are expected to create 69 million new jobs by 2027 while eliminating 83 million positions. This will lead to a net loss of 14 million jobs, equaling 2% of the current employment. Moreover, by 2025, half of the world's specialists will require reskilling.
So, which skills do employers find crucial, and which competencies should we develop?
Leading Job-Growth Industries
Significant job growth, about 30%, is anticipated in agriculture, translating to roughly 3 million workers. Despite mixed opinions from employers, growth is also expected in blue-collar professions that are hard to automate, including construction, machine and mechanism repair, and logistics.
The report also highlights the potential growth in education-related professions. Considering demographic expansion in developing countries, these sectors are likely to see quantitative growth for at least five more years.
Additionally, employers forecast a 25–35% increase in digital professions, particularly in online marketing and sales, with an expectation of up to 2 million new jobs.
Tech professions witnessing rapid growth include:
- AI and ML specialists
- business analysts
- cybersecurity engineers
- fintech engineers
- data scientists
- robotics engineers
- big data specialists
- agricultural machinery operators
For instance, data analysts, data engineers, and business analysts together are likely to see a growth rate of 35%, equating to 1.4 million new positions. AI specialists are projected to experience a 40% growth, translating to 1 million new jobs.
Furthermore, LinkedIn's data shows that vacancies related to generative AI in 2023 surged 36 times compared to 2022. Emerging professions in the labour market include Human-Machines Teaming Manager, AI Ethicist, and Biotech AI Engineer. For companies with over 50,000 employees, AI has become the top priority, as noted in the World Economic Forum's latest Future of Jobs report.
Over 50% of the Global Workforce Will Need Retraining and Reskilling
The push for companies to reskill their employees comes from both technological trends and the increasing importance of certain skills. According to the survey participants, 60% of employees will require reskilling by 2027. Another estimate suggests that 44% of skills will need updating in the next five years.
However, per employee development plans, not everyone who needs it will be retrained by 2027. Hence, specialists across various industries and domains should independently start acquiring skills relevant for the future.
Soft Skills Are Even More In Demand Than Previously
Deloitte's research indicates that by 2030, two-thirds of jobs will be based on soft skills. Additionally, a McKinsey study suggests that around 30% of work time could be automated by then, encouraging candidates to focus on soft skills that machines can't replicate. We've identified top in-demand soft skills for career advancement.
Problem-solving is the ability to handle complex and unexpected cases. Today, companies depend on individuals who can assess situations themselves and resolve issues without the intervention of team leaders or senior colleagues.
Problem-solving skills can be enhanced through:
- active listening
- excellent communication skills
- critical thinking
- the ability to make and take responsibility for decisions
According to a study by The Economist and the Intelligence Unit, problem-solving (cited by 50% of respondents), team work (35%), and effective communication (32%) are the three primary skills sought after by companies in 2023 and beyond.
#2. Critical thinking
A survey by the US National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 82% of companies deem the ability to think critically as a must-have skill when evaluating candidates. Furthermore, a report by Hart Research Associates states that 93% of employers value this skill more highly than a bachelor's degree.
Critical thinking is the ability to think rationally and differentiate between assumptions and facts. It allows individuals to question seemingly true statements, accept diverse sources of information, and change their opinions if they are proven wrong.
To develop critical thinking:
- Expose yourself to a wide range of information sources.
- When evaluating arguments, look for logical fallacies and biases. This helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of the argument, leading to an informed conclusion.
- Analyse your thoughts and beliefs, considering how your personal experiences might influence your perspectives.
- Use the separation technique. This involves looking at situations from an external perspective, setting aside emotions and personal biases. Ask yourself:
▫️ Am I biased or subjective about this situation?
▫️ Do I have any personal interest in the decision made?
▫️ What would an outsider or someone whose opinion I value do in this situation?
- Regularly check new information. When reviewing, ask: Is this information complete? What evidence supports the argument? Is the source reliable? What could be the author's motivation for presenting this information?
#3. Thinking Out of the Box
Each individual has the potential for great ideas, determined by the Creativity Quotient (CQ), which is different from IQ and equally trainable.
To actively generate fresh ideas and bring them to life, try:
- Finding new uses for old items. Choose any object and think of as many unconventional uses for it as possible. For example, a plastic bag could serve as a makeshift shoe cover, a swimming cap, or a pastry bag.
- Random associations. Open a dictionary or any large book. Point to a word and write it down. Repeat this action, then try to connect the resulting words. You can create entire stories. Over time, your brain will begin to quickly form associations and non-traditional ideas.
#4. Networking Skills
Despite the automation of work processes, interpersonal communication skills are becoming increasingly important.
Here are some strategies to build valuable connections, even for introverts:
- When meeting someone, ask for their advice. For example: “I'm facing a challenge at work and thought your advice could help. Do you have a few minutes?”
- Conclude each conversation with: “Do you know anyone I could talk to about Y (job/position/company)?” While not every contact will provide immediate leads, approximately one in twenty will have the connections you need. They will likely be glad to introduce you.
- Keep in touch through follow-ups, where you express gratitude for the conversation and offer your expertise if needed.
#5. Resilience, Flexibility, and Agility
In today's world, we must rapidly adapt to new realities. We are often required to relocate, communicate in various languages, and change professions without missing a stride. Cognitive flexibility and adaptability are key in this process.
- stress resistance
- quick reaction to events
- the ability to learn and relearn rapidly
- flexible thinking
To assist in developing cognitive flexibility and decision-making speed, it is crucial to create backup scenarios. Envision several potential changes and develop scenarios around them. What will your work area look like if these changes occur? Will new opportunities arise? How can negative impacts be minimised?
Consider three potential scenarios:
- “Everything goes according to plan.”
- “Important changes that might become threats” — such as a technological breakthrough altering industry rules, like the widespread use of chatbots leading to call centre layoffs.
- “At your wits' end” — where everything fails, leaving you mentally exhausted, desperate, and needing to quickly develop a new plan from scratch.
#6. Leadership Skills and Social Influence
American entrepreneur Kevin Cashman spent years in executive coaching at large companies and authored the book “Leadership from the Inside Out.” In it, he shares insights on how to bolster your inner leader.
He identifies key areas for leadership development, including:
- Self-knowledge. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and understand how you react in various situations.
- Goal setting. It's crucial not only to know what you want but also to articulate it and align it with current possibilities.
- Change management. In our rapidly changing world, it's a leader's task to embrace these changes while maintaining control, adapting to new realities.
- Interpersonal relationships. The ability to build trusting relationships with others is vital for a leader to guide others.
- Action ability. Deciding and planning are not enough; you must implement these plans and be ready to adjust them as circumstances change.
Hard Skills You Might Need In the Offing
#1. Technological/Digital Literacy
The UK's Department of Digital Technologies reports that 82% of job vacancies in the UK highlight the importance of digital literacy.
Beyond Microsoft Office, employers often seek:
- a foundational understanding of task managers, such as Trello, Asana, or Wrike
- Adobe Photoshop proficiency
- basic knowledge of social media and social selling, even for roles not directly involved in SMM or sales
- an elementary grasp of cybersecurity
#2. AI and Big Data Management
As data volumes grow, businesses increasingly need individuals capable of collecting, structuring, interpreting, and visualising this information.
Skills in this area might include:
- analytical thinking
- advanced Excel capabilities
- familiarity with popular business intelligence (BI) tools
- proficiency in data visualisation programs like Tableau, D3.js, Google Charts, or Microsoft Power BI.
Roles such as digital marketers, copywriters, sales managers, or HR managers should ideally possess data management skills.
#3. Project Management & Time Management Skills
Project management is now recognised as a critical management skill, encompassing:
- resource evaluation
- process planning and organisation
- effective communication skills
- delegation abilities
- providing valuable and constructive feedback
- performance management
According to a Coursera study, project management skills are essential in today's job market. They rank among the top competencies in countries like the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Project management also demonstrates a person's capability to allocate resources effectively and see tasks to completion.
Mastering project management tools is also vital. Tools like Monday, Worksection, and Asana enhance team productivity with their interactive features and visualisations, while Trello is ideal for team brainstorming.