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Want skills that are immune to automation? Add 'power skills' to your workforce

The question on nearly every HR leader’s mind now is: ‘what skills will I need to add to my workforce for the future?’

Right now, organizations are facing unparalleled levels of disruption. Across Asia Pacific (APAC) close to 30 million jobs are at risk of displacement from emerging technologies designed to drive efficiencies and reduce costs for businesses.

The pandemic has only heightened this sense of disorder. Hybrid working is changing how employees view work and workforce trends like the ‘Great Resignation’ highlight shifting employer-employee dynamics, where employees won’t settle for undesirable conditions.

Amid this disruption, the directive of most business leaders is ‘keep growing’. ‘Don’t take your foot off the gas’. ‘Prioritize business development’.

The combination of these pressures makes workforce planning, hiring, and preparing for the future, exceptionally challenging for HR leaders.

That’s why Pearson and People Matters came together to survey 180 organizations across 10 counties in APAC to better understand the ‘power skills’ – the skills that will literally power the future of work – for 2022 onwards.

What they found? ‘Soft skills’ – the human-centric, people-based skills – will power the future of work.



Skills that have seen the highest levels of demand post-pandemic include leadership, collaboration, adaptability, digital fluency, and critical thinking. We may have always known these were important, but now, we’re seeing heightened demand for these human-centric skills.

Faethm’s AI engine used to model future capabilities and skills interestingly highlights similar results. Our future capabilities framework showed that innate human attributes, as well as the digital literacies needed to succeed in a digital-first world, are ‘future-proofed’ skills.

What does this mean? Future-proofed skills are ones that no technology or robot can replace. These inherently human attributes cannot be coded or automated – they are ones that rely on human-to-human connection, communication, and emotion.

Our modelling revealed that skills like leadership, (the ability to direct, inspire and steward through change), agility (the capacity to adapt, learn, and grow), and collaboration (the ability to engage with other employees) are not only vital to the successful running of a business but also immune to automation and displacement.

It also highlighted another interesting trend. Hard IT skills, such as coding, have historically been in high demand. After all, organizations needed IT skills to implement and manage new tech brought on board.


But we’re now seeing an overinvestment in this space by tech companies. With IT skills difficult to find and salaries for tech roles increasing costs, businesses have instead invested in automating hard skills, like coding and data science, meaning demand for these roles will actually shrink.

Instead, organizations will need to invest more in the soft skills required to interpret data and use it to tell stories that impact business decision-making.

This means that even in areas where we’ve historically seen high demand and big salaries for hard IT skills, ultimately, soft skills will come up trumps.

Organizations are starting to recognize this. But many are still challenged by a lack of organization-specific data to back up the need for soft skills, have difficulty finding time to upskill employees in these areas, and limited budgets to support continuous skill-building.

The critical next step for these organizations is to assess their workforce to diagnose where skills are missing and where they need to get to in future. Only then will they be able to put a business case in place to secure budget and execute these programmes.

For HR leaders still asking themselves what skills they need to add to their workforce, here it is – soft skills should be your number one priority.

Now, you need to unlock organizational data to see where demand is for the future and start adding the skills you need most.

Faethm's future of work predictive analytics is recognised globally as a world first. Contact us today for a demo of the platform.