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Future of jobs 2023: These are the most in-demand skills now - and beyond

Analytical thinking tops the list of core skills needed today.

Analytical thinking tops the list of core skills needed today. Image: Pexels/Kindel Media

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Future of Work

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  • The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report finds analytical thinking, creative thinking and AI and big data will be top in-demand skills by 2027.
  • Leadership and social influence and curiosity and lifelong learning are among other skills expected to see growing demand.
  • Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities, according to the report.

In the future jobs market, it will pay to have skills that are in demand.

The World Economic Forum has predicted these likely skillsets – and how demand for them could grow – in its Future of Jobs 2023 report.

Between now and 2027, businesses predict that 44% of workers’ core skills will be disrupted, because technology is moving faster than companies can design and scale up their training programmes.

Here are some key growth skills for workers and employers wanting to stay ahead of the change curve.

Almost half of core skills are expected to change.
Almost half of core skills are expected to change. Image: World Economic Forum

The top 10 skills of 2023

Cognitive skills top the list of those deemed to be of greatest importance for workers in 2023.

Analytical thinking is considered to be a core skill by more companies than any other skill, making up, on average, 9.1% of the core skills reported by companies.

Creative thinking comes second, ahead of three self-efficacy skills – resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; and curiosity and lifelong learning – which recognize the importance of workers' ability to adapt to disrupted workplaces.

"There's more of a focus and an interest in having people with analytical thinking, people with creativity," Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum said in an interview for the Radio Davos podcast on the Future of Jobs Report 2023.

"But it's also become very important to have leadership skills and to have social influence, and the ability to work with other people. The traits that make us human, make us able to relate with each other and to get innovative, creative things done in the workplace."

The Top Skills of 2023. core skills
Cognitive skills top the list for 2023. Image: World Economic Forum

Future skills - growing in importance

Analytical thinking also comes high on the list of skills predicted to grow in importance for workers - by 72% over the next five years, businesses report.

Their rationale is that reasoning and decision-making are currently the least automated workplace task, and account for just 26% of task automation.

Future of Jobs Report 2023. core skills
Future of Jobs Report 2023 Image: World Economic Forum

Meanwhile, businesses surveyed for the report believe demand for creative thinking will grow faster in the next five years – by 73% – than demand for analytical thinking.

Technology literacy is the third-fastest growing core skill, while curiosity and lifelong learning; resilience, flexibility and agility; and motivation and self-awareness complete the top five.

Businesses surveyed deemed no skills to be in net decline, but some companies judge reading, writing and mathematics; global citizenship; sensory-processing abilities; and manual dexterity, endurance and precision to be of declining importance for their workers.

Skills training priorities

Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities today, according to the report. But companies recognize the need to upskill and reskill employees, with 82% planning to invest in learning and training on the job.

AI and big data rank seventh for skills growing in importance today, with 60% growth in demand predicted by 2027.

But when it comes to training priorities for companies over the next five years, AI and big data ranks third and will be prioritized by 42% of surveyed companies, the report found.

Leadership skills, which come ninth in the top skills for 2023 and 11th for skills growing in importance, will be the focus of four in 10 corporate skills strategies.

Upskilling workers in leadership is reported to be a particular priority in the automotive and aerospace and infrastructure industries. It’s also the number one priority in the supply chain and transportation and advanced manufacturing industries.

Have you read?

World Economic Forum Growth Summit 2023

Developing human capital – including investing in education and skills – is a core theme of the World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit 2023: Jobs and Opportunity for All.

The event, which takes place between 2-3 May 2023 at the Forum’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, will bring together business, government, civil society, international organizations and academic leaders to devise a plan for growth that is focused on people and equitable recovery.

“Rapidly advancing technology, restructured value chains and the green transition are creating enormous opportunities for economies and businesses to thrive,” the Forum says.

“But, entire sectors of the global economy are also being disrupted in parallel, resulting in significant displacement of workers and decline in previously thriving geographies.”

The developing human capital theme will include sessions on What Next for Jobs?; Skills for Growth: Creating a Future Ready Workforce; Generation AI and Reskilling Revolution: A Business Imperative.

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