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What is the most important work skill of the future?

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  • Picture of Amy Solveig Skogberg
    Amy Solveig Skogberg
    Success Coach & Motivational Speaker
  • Future of Work
  • Employment
  • Fellowship
  • Global

That’s the million dollar question that RSA Finland’s monthly meetup tried to answer last week. Inspired by RSA’s Future Work Centre, our monthly meetup in Helsinki had the theme “Future of Work”.

We started the meeting with brainstorming around that million dollar question. Now, you might know that Finnish people are well-known for being a little shy and not very talkative, but not this time! Pretty quickly it became clear that “The Future of Work” is a topic that RSA Fellows deeply care about and have opinions on, as the discussions were very lively right from the beginning.

The brainstorming session resulted in the following, great opinions on the most important work skills of the future:

  • Curiosity
  • Customer understanding
  • Having the willingness, ability and courage to change
  • Constant learning
  • Social skills
  • Listening skills
  • Communication skills
  • Broad knowledge
  • Being able to cope with uncertainty.

We then moved on to framing the answers in a larger context; the fourth industrial revolution, in which technologies from different fields are emerging and merging, and in which the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological worlds are blurring. 

After discussing the above list in the light of the fourth industrial revolution, we agreed that “Communication skills” and “Having the willingness, ability and courage to change” are the most important skills going forward.

However, we also added another skill to the list; Emotional Intelligence, EQ!

Our reasoning behind this was that in an era characterized by automatization, robotization, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the human touch becomes more and more vital in the workplace. AI and machines should be used as much as possible to automatize processes and handle large amounts of data, so that us living souls can focus on what we are unbeatable at; Emotional Intelligence.

When we explored the definition of EQ (“the ability to monitor one's own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior”) one participant had a heureka-moment:

“Actually, when you think about it, the two skills we earlier decided to be the two most important ones – communication and having the willingness, ability and courage to change – can be considered to be subsets of a high EQ”.

We finished the meeting by concluding that during the evening it became even clearer to us that the 4.0 Industry needs 4.0 professionals; employees who will have the right skills also in 3-5 years’ time to be able to deal with the fast changing market. According to the outcome of RSA Finland’s monthly meetup Emotional Intelligence could be the answer to the million dollar question in the headline – what do YOU think?


Amy Skogberg is a Mental Coach and Employee Relations Leader based in Helsinki, Finland.

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  •  You are right…

    what about … unconventional skills? :-)

    "We live work like it's a videogame: challenging ourselves to succeed in the task in order to progress to the next level. We call it career. 

    But new generations don’t want a corporate career anymore; they want experience. It sounds cool, but how can this hold up in time? What can preserve our passion for work?"

    • Thank you Agata for your excellent comment! I think that feedback is key to preserve passion for work. The new generation wants to know that their opinions matter and how they are contributing to the big picture. This means that organisations must adopt a more coaching-oriented approach and support Managers in developing coaching skills, so that they can help Gen Y workers reach for the stars! 

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