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Talent Development Leader

Ever-Evolving Tech Drives Skills Needs for Future Workforce

Monday, May 15, 2023

Companies are investing in skills development to be competitive in the future.

Employers estimate that 44 percent of their workers’ skills will be disrupted within the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report. To compile data for the study, WEF surveyed 803 companies, which collectively employ more than 11.3 million workers across 27 industries and 45 economies worldwide.


“In 2023, labour-market transformations driven by technological breakthroughs, such as the coming of age of generative artificial intelligence (AI), are being compounded by economic and geopolitical disruptions and growing social and environmental pressures,” notes WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi in the report.

Not surprisingly, technology adoption is expected to be a key driver of business transformation in the next five years. More than 85 percent of the organizations surveyed identified increased adoption of new and frontier technologies (such as AI, cloud computing, and big data) and broadening landscape of digital access as the trends most likely to change how their companies operate.

Meanwhile, the report reveals that skills gaps and an inability to attract talent are the key barriers preventing successful transformation. Six in 10 companies reported that they have trouble bridging skills gaps locally, and more than five in 10 identified an inability to attract talent as their main obstacle.

In response to anticipated skills gaps brought on by the proliferation of new technologies and a broader application of environmental, social, and governance standards, organizations indicated that cognitive skills such as creative thinking (73 percent) and analytic thinking (72 percent) are growing in importance at the fastest pace, “reflecting the increasing importance of complex problem-solving in the workplace” the report notes. Respondents also stated that those skills will receive the highest priority for training from 2023 to 2027, with analytical thinking accounting for 10 percent of training programs and creative thinking accounting for 8 percent of upskilling initiatives.

In addition, 68 percent of companies said that the need for technology literacy is growing in importance for their businesses; it is the third-fastest rising core skill. Rounding out the top 10 skills, capabilities, and aptitudes organizations consider to be rising in importance are:

  • Curiosity and lifelong learning (67 percent)
  • Resilience, flexibility, and agility (66 percent)
  • Systems thinking (60 percent)
  • AI and big data (60 percent)
  • Motivation and self-awareness (59 percent)
  • Talent management (56 percent)
  • Service orientation and customer service (55 percent)

Those skills, however, are not always reflected in upskilling strategies. For example, although using AI and big data ranks third among companies’ skill priorities, only 42 percent of respondents will prioritize training for that skill.

The WEF report asserts that “a majority of companies in every country and industry express a net positive outlook for talent development of their existing workforce in the next five years.” By a wide margin, companies indicated that investing in on-the-job training will be the most common workforce strategy used to help them meet their business goals.

Read more from Talent Development Leader.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently sources and authors content for TD Magazine and CTDO, as well as manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs. Contact her at [email protected]

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