This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 5, 2012

New Skills Demanded from Tomorrow's Workers

In last week’s Herman Trend Alert, we focused on the new Towers Watson study "Global Talent 2021". In that alert, we referenced this global transformation will also require employees to possess certain "new skills". These new skills will be in demand, across all levels of employment over the next five to 10 years:

Digital Skills. The rapidly developing digital economy is increasing the demand for highly skilled technical workers. Actually, the emergence of social media is placing an emphasis on developing new forms of digital expression and marketing literacy. According to their survey, of all technical capabilities, digital business skills are seen as most critical---especially in the Asia-Pacific region, because they see the early adoption of new digital technology as way to "leapfrog" an inefficient antiquated infrastructure. Specifically, 50.6 percent of the respondents valued digital business skills, while 44.9 percent assessed the ability to work virtually as critical.

Agile Thinking Skills. In this period of sustained economic and political uncertainty, and, agile thinking and the ability to prepare for multiple scenarios is vital. In industries that face significant regulatory and environmental challenges, including life sciences, and energy and mining, the ability to prepare for multiple scenarios is especially important---72 percent and 71 percent respectively, compared with 55 percent for the overall population of respondents. To succeed in the changing marketplace of the future, HR executives also placed a high premium on innovative thinking (46.0 percent), dealing with complexity and managing paradoxes (42.9 percent).

Interpersonal and Communication Skills. Overall, HR executives believe that co-creativity and brainstorming skills (48.3 percent), customer relationship building (47.4 percent), and virtual teaming skills(44.9) will be in demand. This figure reflects the continued corporate shift from a command-and-control organization to a more collaborative style. As we move into a more "networked" future, relationships with suppliers, outsourcing partners, and even customers will become more distributed and challenging. The capacity to align strategic goals, build consensus and encourage collaboration will become vital. The task is intensified by the wide variety of geographies and cultures represented in the stakeholders.

Global Operating Skills. Due to the expansion into markets worldwide, the facility to manage diverse employees is seen as the most important global operating skill (49.1 percent). "Firms will increasingly move from 'glocalization,' where home market products and services are tailored to the tastes of overseas customers, to reverse innovation, under which innovation is led from the emerging markets and then brought back home to mature markets," according to Jeff Immelt, Chairman of General Electric.

Employees who do not possess these valuable skillsets will be at a serious competitive disadvantage; those who do will be the leaders of tomorrow.

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