Strategy & LeadershipHR StrategyFastest growing skills of 2022

Fastest growing skills of 2022

The pandemic highlighted the growing need for a skills ‘upgrade’, but knowing which skills employees need has been challenging. Coursera’s Yousef Tungen sheds light on which skills are most in demand by businesses currently

When the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, took to the stage of the AT&T Business Summit towards the end of 2019 to offer his take on how the business landscape at the time would evolve, he did not know a global pandemic was just around the corner.

As he voiced his theory that “every company would become a digital company” to those gathered in the auditorium in Dallas, Texas, he had no idea those same people would spend much of their next working year having to interact with their colleagues and clients almost exclusively by screen as office interactions would become a thing of the past.

And when Nadella hypothesised the success of these digital transformation programs would be dictated by an equation of tech adoption multiplied by tech capability, multiplied to the power of trust, he was unaware of just how much companies would come to rely on their employees adapting to new digital tools and technology-led ways of working.

Nadella knew none of that as he spoke of a future where businesses of all types, no matter how rigidly structured or tied to the traditional ways of working, would embrace an operating structure which prized proactivity above towing the line, and those who sought out employee agency above hitting key performance indicators (KPIs).

But nonetheless, much of what he said has rung true.

An era of agency and adaptability

“That era of your manager looking over your shoulder and clocking you in or out is nearly gone,” explains Yousef Tuqan, skills transformation consultant at Coursera. “There is a lot more emphasis on people being able to manage themselves and their own time.”

Tuqan has learnt from his own experience of working during the pandemic but has also seen it borne out in the data  Coursera has collected over the course of the last two years for The Job Skills of 2022 report.

The data, which was drawn from the global e-learning providers client base of 2,000 business customers, identified those skills which had most rapidly risen up the list of skills deemed most in demand by businesses and organisations.

The first subset of these, grouped under the classification of human skills, could be clearly identified as key competencies in being able to overcome many of the challenges presented by the new of working: the communication skills to overcome the absence of physical interactions while still being heard; and the change management skills to switch quickly into a new mode of operation.

So too were those things that would separate those who would flourish with the new agile way of working from those who would not, such as strong problem solving and decision-making abilities.

“That need for adaptability and to be able to deal with changing ways of working is incredibly vital,” explains Yousef Tuqan, skills transformation consultant at Coursera.

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“The reality is most people are not only working unsupervised for days, but for months so the need for them to be able to manage their own time and priorities and be able to work on both short and long term assignments at the same is vital,” he adds.

A widening digital divide

Undergoing a similar growth in demand across business over the same period, were a range of digital and data-led skills which have become ever more core to how businesses across sectors must operate. Those which emerged as being of particular importance to respondents to Coursera’s survey included statistical visualisation, user experience design, and the ability to manage and understand data.

Illustrating how critical such things have become is the move by the multinational telecoms company Orange to embed digital and data skills across its entire workforce by working with Coursera to provide new forms of training.

“Because their ambition is to make Orange a data driven company, they are really focused on the need to make everybody more data literate,” explains Tuqan. “So they are working with us at a literacy feel to really make sure everybody has a basic understand around data and to be able to interrogate it and not be afraid of it.”

At Orange, this shift was prompted by a recognition that as the business moves away from physical networks and hardware towards virtualised software, so too must its skill sets evolve.

But for others, it might equally apply as a means of overcoming an ever-widening skills gap where more than half (58 percent) of all employees require new skills to continue carrying out their current jobs, according to a survey of HR leaders by Gartner published last year.

“What’s really interesting about this is that by enabling people to build this basic level of literacy is that it then allows people to raise their hand for further up-skilling and re-skilling opportunities,” says Tuqan.

“The vast majority of employers are facing a huge-talent gap when it comes to being able to recruit people who are able to work with data as their core-function, so this literacy program allows people to self-select for up-skilling into for new roles that are more data-focused.”

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