These Are the Skills of the Future, According to 39 Industry Experts

September 25, 2017

The #FutureSkills all professionals need to learn over the next five years are strategy, employee engagement and a growth mindset.

There’s a misconception out there that the future of work will be robots and artificial intelligence automating all the jobs, leaving nothing for majority of the world’s citizens to do.

History says that’s not the case. Over the past 120 years, there have been incredible technological advancements – cars, personal computers, the internet, smartphones, etc. – that have automated or eliminated aspects of nearly every job. But jobs haven’t gone away; instead, they’ve generally become more complex or changed scope, requiring new skills to complete them.

Hence, over the next five years, with AI and other technologies changing the market, jobs won’t go away. But the skills needed to do most jobs will change (and, in many cases, change drastically).

This sounds scary, but it really isn’t. Preparing for the future merely requires a commitment to learning – one of the most empowering activities a person can engage in. And, with all this change comes great opportunity. So, if you commit to learning and stay ahead of your industry, you’ll put yourself in position to reach your goals – regardless of where you stand now.

Three #FutureSkills all professionals will need moving forward

So, what skills do you as a professional need to learn to prepare yourself for the next five years? Well, over the past three months we here at LinkedIn Learning have interviewed more than 39 experts across 10 industries and asked them this simple question:

What skills do you believe will become increasingly more important to your industry over the next five years? Why?

The responses we got were fascinating. Some examples were:

  • Reid Hoffman, when asked about the future skills of business leaders, said that all business leaders across all industries need a defined software strategy.
  • Simon Ritter, when we asked him about the future of tech, said it comes down to understanding how the very big and the very small can work together – meaning cloud computing and the Internet of Things.
  • Catherine Mattice Zundel, when we asked about the future of human resources, said HR needs to go from compliance-focused to people-focused, ASAP.

And while those answers were all specific to their individual fields, there were three skills we saw again and again that apply to all professionals moving forward. They are:

  • A growth mindset

This is something that was mentioned by virtually every expert we talked with. All agreed that there will be a plethora of change over the next five years, and the professionals who accepted that change – i.e., embraced a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset – would be the ones who excel moving forward.

Take sales, as an example. Sales, on its face, feels like a static industry: the fundamentals of selling hasn’t changed much over time. And yet, with solutions, outreach methods and the needs of customers expected to change drastically over the next five years, a growth mindset – one where learning is embraced instead of feared – is necessary.

“The rate of change in the world is accelerating and sales reps stuck in one mindset, who can only understand one platform or one solution set, will be left behind by those who can grasp new concepts faster,” Mike Gamson, head of global solutions at LinkedIn, said.

  • Strategy

Another skill that was brought up by the vast majority of the people we interviewed. The message was the same again and again: with AI and robots automating more jobs, the need for administrative skills will diminish. In response, professionals will need to become more strategic, so they can focus on what’s most important to the business.

Take marketing as an example. Over the next five years, there will be only more marketing channels for marketers to use, and more content types they could create. Hence, Siegel+Gate CMO Margaret Molloy said the future of marketing is really going to come down to prioritization – it’s about being smart about focusing on the channels and the content that’ll most move the needle.

“The capacity to understand the drivers of a company’s business performance and the judgement on how to impact business results will be even more essential,” she said.

  • Employee empowerment

The expectation of employees is a lot higher than it was fifty years ago, when the attitude by management was “you should be happy you have a job.” Today, if the needs of top talent aren’t met, they’ll simply move onto something else.

To accommodate this, leaders in all industries need to stop seeing employees as commodities, and instead work to empower them to do their best work. Project Management Guru Doug Rose said this already happening in project management, and will continue to accelerate over the next five years.

“Project managers will become less and less about managing the project,” he said. “Instead, the focus will be much more on managing the teams. Newer project managers will be people-oriented. They’ll have to understand team members’ motivations. They’ll have to resolve conflict and encourage better communication.”

So, what do employees want? Well, many of the leaders gave their opinions on that, but longtime Medtronic CEO and current Harvard professor Bill George said it really comes down to authenticity.

“The most important skill CEOs must demonstrate is authenticity,” he said. “Millennials and Gen Xers only want to work for leaders who are authentic: open, sharing, true to their values, compassionate, committed to a clear sense of purpose and, most important, possessed with courage to make bold decisions.”

The #FutureSkills of your industry

We mentioned three general skills we saw across all industries. But, to make this as helpful as possible, we wrote blogs for 10 industries that detail the specific skills in each on that’ll become increasingly more important over the next five years.

They are:

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