Rebecca van Eden, Manager, Consumer Insights & Analytics, Sponsored by GetSmarter, a 2U, Inc. brand
Digital transformation was already one of the defining features of the 21st century, but the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has compressed expected changes into a matter of months. Increasingly, businesses will look to hire employees who are proficient in more than one area, and who are able to integrate the established world of business with disruptive forces shaping the future workplace. We are seeing a rise in hybrid roles, such as data scientists, UI designers, and security analysts, that combine technical skills with more traditional skills. These roles will continue to evolve as business needs change for the future world of work.
Technical skills will continue to be highly valued in the workplace, and technical professionals will need to consistently upskill to keep up with innovation. However, findings from GetSmarter’s Future of Work report show that analytical and critical thinking and leadership skills outrank technical skills in terms of perceived current and future value. These findings were again substantiated in our most recent career outlook research. This is relevant across industries, and is a view held by business leaders and Learning and Development (L&D) managers alike. Technical professionals who want to set themselves apart from their peers should look to develop their soft skills, their ability to think critically in a business context, as well as their leadership skills (alongside existing technical skills). With these skill sets, technical professionals can become a “techie triple threat”.
For techies wanting to get ahead in the workplace, communication and collaboration will be the key soft skills on which to focus. The spread of analytic capabilities outside the realm of IT has led to increased opportunities for collaboration between technical workers and their business colleagues. Successful digital transformation requires buy-in from the broader organisation and having good communication skills is critical for achieving this.
Developing leadership skills is another requisite for success in the tech world. The rise of project-based work requires effective leadership skills and general interpersonal skills from senior specialists, as well as from managers.
The third piece of the techie triple threat puzzle is analytical and critical thinking. This means the ability to identify and break down complex problems and form a calculated judgement on the best solution. While technical professionals typically possess good analytical skills, being able to identify and understand business complexities can elevate these existing abilities to a strategic level. Business acumen is not just important for those with their sights set on a C-suite title – tech professionals also need to be able to translate complex technical jargon into business-speak if they want to influence decision-makers.
GetSmarter’s research indicates that the future of work is distinctly human. Developing soft skills as well as the ability to identify and solve complex business problems will be the key to career longevity for techies and non-techies alike.