Further to this, the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics project employment to grow fastest in occupations that are difficult to automate, specifically within healthcare, construction, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations (United States Bureau of Labour Statistics, 2016).
There will be increasing demand for workers who have a comparative skills advantage. Even in highly technical roles a strong set of soft skills will provide that advantage.
There are skills gaps in many OECD countries that include technology and basic literacy skills. There is also a significant lack of soft skills.
Auckland employers surveyed in 2012 stated that soft skills (or non-cognitive skills) are becoming increasingly important when hiring (Allpress, 2013) and expressed difficulties finding employees with adequate soft skills.
That study also found that some
infrastructure firms reported that they could increase revenues and improve
productivity more through enhanced non-cognitive skills amongst their engineers than through advances in technical skills (Boven, Carter and Smutz, 2013).
In 2017 a large number of business organisations, including Xero, ASB, Noel Leeming, Vector and Sky City, published an
letter stating their intent to hire people without
Their hiring process would instead focus on assessment of the necessary skills, attitudes, motivation and adaptability to join their organisations, in conjunction with previous experiences in and out of the workforce.
The possibilities that technology brings are being pushed further and further every day.
There are new occupations in fields that only recently would have been taken for science fiction, for example:
- cloud technologies
- 'app' development
- social media management
- meta-data mining.
There is no certainty about the skills that will be required in this rapid changing environment. However, soft skills, particularly adaptability, creativity and critical thinking will be more advantageous as the world of work evolves.
Boven, D., Carter N., & Smutz, M. (2012).
economy (PDF 1.4MB). Proposed skills agenda:. Auckland workforce skills from the employers' perspective. Committee for Auckland, Auckland [accessed 31/10/2017].
Centre for the Developing Child. (2007) The science of early childhood development: Closing the gap between what we know and what we do. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University [accessed 31/10/2017].
Deming, D. (2017).
The growing importance of social skills in the labor market (PDF
453KB). Harvard University and NBER [accessed 31/10/2017].
Heckman, J. & Kautz, T. (2012). Hard evidence on soft skills.
Labour Econ 2012 Aug 1; 19(4): 451–464 [accessed 31/10/2017].
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2015).
Skills for social progress: the power of social and emotional skills [accessed 31/10/2017].
SHRM Foundation. (2014).
What's next: future global trends affecting your organization evolution of work and the worker (PDF 1.53MB). Economist Intelligence Unit.
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016).
Employment projections: 2016–26 summary (PDF 471KB)[accessed 31/10/2017].
For further information:
The World Economic Forum report on
the new vision for education (PDF
The Economist Intelligence Unit report on
the learning curve.
The European Political Strategy Centre report on
the future of work skills and resilience for a world of change (PDF
Open letter to the New Zealand Public from
broad business sector.