A global data report by
Those who act fast have a game-changing opportunity to get ahead of the competition.
Massive workforce shifts in 2020 have forced countless workers to refresh their current skills — and build new ones. If you’re wondering what skills are critical to you moving into 2021, it depends entirely on who you are, where you work, and what you do.
We’ve organized the following data by your country, industry, and job role to help you identify where skills are most at-risk of becoming obsolete. Our aim is to help workers, team managers, and business leaders focus their limited energy and investments on developing the most urgent skills.
Among the 5,000+ workers, team managers, and business leaders we surveyed, demand is strongest for technological skills. However, they’re also looking to develop their social and cognitive skills.
“I need to tell you something about all your skills. As of right now, they mean precisely #!*%.”
Advanced IT and programming
Leadership and managing others
Advanced communication and negotiation
Entrepreneurship and initiative-taking
Advanced data analysis and mathematics
Critical thinking and decision making
Adaptability and continuous learning
Technology design and engineering
Technology, programming, and digital fluency skills are in high demand today. But many jobs, like sales, only require people to use those skills in small doses or at basic levels.
In the coming years, demand will skyrocket for cognitive skills like creativity or problem solving, and social skills like communication, entrepreneurship, or leadership.
No matter who you are, from an executive to a worker, you need to know which skills are growing (or declining) in value in your country, in your business, and in your role.
"I ask managers to imagine a documentary about what their team is accomplishing six months from now. What specific results do they see? How is the work different from what the team is doing today? Next I ask them to think about the skills needed to make the images in the movie become reality."
Development opportunities are harder to find at work amid the global health and economic crisis. Nearly half of workers say their employers have reduced upskilling and reskilling opportunities during the pandemic.
"When we looked at our labor force through the skills lens, we found that we had two-thirds of our skills wrong. We were headed for disaster."
More than half of workers globally (55%) say that as confidence in their skills decrease, their stress levels increase.
Increased stress compounds into weaker consumer demand and adds new pressures on already strained communities and local governments.
Anxiety and stress over skills can also impede workers’ productivity and performance, and intensify “people costs” like wellness, absences, and turnover.