What Skills Do You Really Need?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. From artificial
intelligence (AI), 5G networks, robotics and automation, digital
transformations are unfolding and disrupting various sectors globally, faster
than anticipated. In the MENA region, businesses, academic institutions and
professionals are being forced to adapt, grow and shift with these changes.
With many sectors being dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic,
and many roles and jobs already becoming obsolete (before there was even time
to plan), there are countless skills that professionals can start acquiring to
remain relevant in the present and future workplace. This is echoed by a recent
study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that estimated that over 50 percent of
employees will either need to re-skill or up-skill to match with future
For the professionals who are starting their careers, or are
mid-career, there are many job skills that are now a priority. The good news is
the earlier professionals start reviewing their career paths and acquiring new
skillsets, the more competitive they will become in the professional realm,
today and in the future.
Here is how to re-skill and up-skill for the future
The hard skills
- Research the trends and forecasted changes in your industry.
There are new industries that will emerge, automation will streamline many
mundane tasks in existent industries, and many roles will need new skills in
technology and in the digital realm. Tap into studies and research that
highlight where your industry is heading.
- Brush up and enroll in courses to enhance your technology
and computer skills. Is there a new computer program that you have been hearing
about? Is your industry moving towards being completely digitized? Understand
what competencies your career path requires and start taking online courses in
- Enhance your digital literacy and ensure the latest tools
and resources that your work requires are mastered. Don’t just use the tools
that you are comfortable with. If there is a program, platform or resource that
can streamline your work and help you become more efficient, start using it.
- Learn new things, daily. When professionals take a 3 month
course, or pursue a higher degree, the amount of information they can retain
will decrease over time. Instead, try ‘bite-sized learning’. Bite-sized
learning entails smaller and shorter courses (1 to 15 minutes), typically
focused on very specific learning outcomes.
- Stand out in cross-functional teams. There is a growing
importance of having cross-functional teams in companies, where different team
members’ skills can complement others. Create your own tools to communication
goals, strategies and results tied to your role with other team members. Also,
share your skillset with others by teaching them about your role, and listen to
feedback based on the different professional backgrounds. Become an expert in
your field of expertise.
The soft skills
Soft skills matter. With digitalization upon us, soft skills
are even more important, as employees need to spend more time solving new
problems, innovating and thinking outside the box. In fact, soft skills are now
deemed just as important as technical ones. Hone your interpersonal skills,
leadership skills and problem-solving skills.
- Emotional intelligence. The term entails how you read and
understand human emotions, and how you adjust your behavior and words depending
on the sentiment / mood of the person you are engaging with, or based on
emotions you are feeling. Both verbal and non-verbal communication are key to
enhance emotional intelligence.
- Creativity. Companies are always on the lookout for creative,
innovative thinkers. Creativity aids in finding solutions to complex problems,
presenting new ideas and transforming a project into something greater than it
- Think, critically. The most competitive professionals will
be those whose skillsets cannot be replaced by computers. Critical, analytical
thinking is one such competency that will differentiate candidates in the
future workplace. Companies value strategic, critical thinking.
- Decision-making. Decisions need to be made daily at work.
Decisions are diverse, from what to include in a presentation, to what word to
use, to how to shift strategies based on analyzing numbers. Employers seek
adept decision-makers to help guide organizations and teams forward.
- Leadership skills. To move up the career ladder, leadership
skills are vital. This includes how you motivate teams, how to sell your vision
and how you help increase productivity levels based on the way you interact
- Communication skills. Communication skills are needed in
every aspect of your professional and personal life. By understanding the
strengths and weaknesses of colleagues, you learn how to communicate with them
to achieve better results. In negotiations, communication skills are integral
to close good deals. They are also needed to engage, inspire and inform,
including both written and verbal communication.
With this in mind, it’s time to get started on your future
careers. Start from within, map out an ideal career path and start researching.
Then ask for feedback from friends and colleagues that you trust, on what they
perceive your strengths and weaknesses to be.