Despite new technologies transforming the world of work, human skills continue to dominate the list of the top five most in-demand skills. According to the findings of Pearson’s Skills Outlook, communication, customer focus, leadership, attention to detail and collaboration are the top five human skills that today’s employers look for the most in Southeast Asia’s major job markets such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. However, new technologies are transforming the world of work which is set to continue through at least 2026.
As the world moves towards a new, hybrid style of working, Pearson’s predictive AI modeling tool suggests that the top five power skills that will be most in demand to meet the economic need in 2026 are also human skills. Collaboration, customer focus, personal learning, achievement focus, and cultural and social intelligence are on the list.
“It is surprising to see that the most critical skills needed in the workforce today and in the future are in fact human skills,” explained Dr Richard George, Vice President, Data Science, Workforce Skills at Pearson.
“Swift investment is needed, as a strong foundation of human skills is essential for success for employers and employees. As the adoption of new technologies continues, the importance of non-technical skills such as the ability to learn and cultural and social intelligence is only becoming more important. Organisations that recognise this and invest in helping employees build transferable and flexible capabilities are the ones that will thrive in our changing world,” George said.
“Although technical skills are increasingly in demand, technological advancement can often render these skills obsolete or unique to specific job scopes. For instance, the Great Recession of 2008 brought about a major shift in skill requirements for that time. Skills such as analysis and data savviness became high in demand and those companies invested time and resources into upskilling or rehiring. Even in tech roles, human skills allow employees to be agile and adaptable in their learning,” he added.
As recession threat looms large over not only the US and Australia, but also Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia,businesses are looking for employees who can stay relevant and versatile, and those that fail to upskill will get left behind by the more prepared and adaptable. A World Economic Forum study also highlights that over a billion people globally will need reskilling to keep up with the evolving demands of the workforce by 2030.
Using an analysis of more than 21 million job ads globally, Pearson’s Skills Snapshot identifies today’s new ‘power skills’ – the capabilities now powering the world’s economy and individual careers. The analysis shows that while technical capabilities remain essentially crucial for many roles, employers highly prize human skills such as collaboration, communication, and leadership.
Pearson also emphasised the relevance of power skills to the Southeast Asian market. In fast-paced markets like Singapore, personal learning and achievement focus help employees differentiate themselves from the rest. Additionally, cross-border and intraregional collaboration is a common part of job scopes, especially in multinational corporations. Collaboration skills as well as cultural and social intelligence help employees thrive in such situations.