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What are the skills of the future?

We’ve identified 21 Future Skills that are likely to be in-demand in the future of work. These skills have repeatedly been listed by futurists, researchers and future-forward organisations (like The World Economic Forum and IDEO) as highly desirable skills in the future workplace.



Our brains are wired to react to uncertainty with fear. Turns out that we are more afraid of the uncertainty of whether something might happen, than knowing that something bad is definitely going to happen. Some people have developed better coping mechanisms when dealing with uncertain situations, learning to accept uncertainty and even thrive in it.



The ability to bounce back from failure and challenges. Resilience can hugely help employees when it comes to managing stress, conflict and dealing with pressure at work. This is more important than ever, especially with “stress” being named as the “global health epidemic of the 21st century” (World Health Organization).



The ability to use original and imaginative ideas to create something new. Now more than ever, workers need to rely on creativity to benefit from changes in technology, products and new ways of working. Resourcefulness and innovative thinking, can help finding the right solutions to any problem. Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet).



We all prefer to get a full picture before making a decision but, if forced to work with incomplete information, some people feel more comfortable than others. Incomplete information can disrupt the way we see and interpret the world around us. This uncertainty is viewed by most people as something to avoid, and people can go to great extents to minimize uncertainty in their lives as much as possible.



People with grit are in the for the long run and they are most likely to accomplish challenging goals. They have the ability to maintain motivation and perseverance for a long period of time, despite failures and setbacks.



In a world where there’s an app for everything, and where our smartphones are constantly lighting up with new notifications and alerts, the ability to focus is more important than ever. Repeated interruptions hugely affect concentration and productivity. In 2002 a study reported that on average, we experience an interruption every eight minutes. In an eight-hour day, that’s about sixty interruptions. The average interruption takes about five minutes, so that’s about 5 hours out of 8!


Your risk appetite is the level of risk you are prepared to accept, before taking action to reduce the risk. It represents a balance between the potential benefits of innovation and the threats that change inevitably brings about. A healthy appetite for risk is desirable to keep up with the changing world.



Seizing opportunities and seeing them through. People with strong entrepreneurial skills can spot an opportunity everywhere and use their initiative and a proactive approach to make the most of it.



The ability to take initiative. Knowing what to do is only the beginning. Your internal motivation will push you to take action and will get you out of your comfort zone to turn your ideas into concrete goals. 



The ability to embrace new ways and concepts, and perform tasks that you haven’t done before. If you are being thrown a curveball, will you sink or swim? Will you be able to see the potential in it and adapt to succeed? Versatility will help you easily jump into new projects and assignments.



How can you create a great experience for your customers? It all starts with the conscious decision to put your customers needs first and let the rest follow. The ability to really listen to your customer will give you a new level of understanding of their point of view, building a relationship based on mutual trust.



The ability to maintain a positive outlook through challenging times. Our brains are programmed to focus on threats, as a residual from our survival instincts during our hunters and gatherers days. Being positive is a conscious choice: you need to actively create new habits, until having a positive outlook will become second nature, and optimism will be your default response to any curveball life throws at you.



Confidence in yourself comes from the knowledge of the value you provide and the feeling of being able to rely on yourself and on your skills when it matters most. Confidence will help you better deal with failures, will push you to take more risks and be more creative.



The ability to defy authority, when the situation calls for it. Knowing when to break the rules is as important as knowing when to follow them. An established  organisation can easily get too stuck in the way things have always been done. Change starts with one person, brave enough to ask the uncomfortable questions and not afraid to shake things up.



Humility is tightly connected to self-awareness. Knowing yourself and your blindspots, can help you develop a greater sense of humility. Being humble, doesn’t mean not speaking up, but it does mean you are more likely to entertain the validity of contrasting views and opinions. Humble leaders are more likely to connect on a human level; they’re open-minded, collaborative and listen to others. They create an atmosphere of reciprocal trust and respect.



When you are curious, you are more likely to ask questions. Curiosity is at the heart of successful learning, helping your brain to absorb and retain information more easily.



Author Brené Brown, defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure”. Being vulnerable means showing people you don’t always have all the answers – in the workplace it helps you create connections and build trust in your team.



How can you balance short-term profits and long-term goals? How can you focus on your work and your personal life? We constantly find ourselves battling with competing sides. As F. Scott Fitzgerald put it “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function”.



Going past the idea of right and wrong, this or that. We are programmed to be binary, to make a choice that fits in one category or the other. But the reality is that life is more complicated than this: you don’t always have to choose only one option and stick to it. Non-binary thinking relies on the power of “and”.



Feeling invested in something and feeling responsible for the outcome of a particular project. People that have a natural inclination to take ownership of a particular project, are likely to experience a higher sense of pride towards their work. Promoting a culture of ownership in an organisation, will lead towards higher accountability and foster innovation.



Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s perspective and feel what they feel. Empathy in the workplace can help creating stronger bonds, lower stress and avoid burnout.

We all have a natural inclination towards some skills over others, but the good news is that you can start developing your Future Skills right now.

Are you curious to find out what are your natural tendencies in relations to these 21 Future Skills? Take our free Future Skills Assessment now to find out!

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