March 2020
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TD Magazine

Common Ground

Monday, March 2, 2020

Organizations around the world are focusing on interpersonal skills.

Talent development professionals in all regions of the world identified interpersonal skills as one of the most important content areas for their organizations—but that's not all they're focusing on. That's according to the Association for Talent Development's 2019 Global Trends in Talent Development report, which is based on a survey of TD professionals worldwide and explores TD practices and trends across four regions:

  • Asia-Pacific—East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Oceania
  • Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)—Europe includes Russia and Turkey
  • Latin America—Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean
  • North America—Canada and the US.

The report reveals that interpersonal skills (such as communication and teamwork) were ranked the most important content area in EMEA, Latin America, and North America. Respondents in Asia-Pacific also identified interpersonal skills as a top content area, second only to executive development.

Soft skills like these are predicted to grow in importance in the coming years. The 2017 Deloitte Access Economics report Soft Skills for Business Success indicates that soft skill–intensive occupations will comprise two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.

Another area several regions identified was managerial and supervisory; this was a top content area in Asia-Pacific, EMEA, and North America. Given the crucial role managers play in developing and engaging employees, it is easy to see why this topic is so universal.


Some content areas were unique to specific regions. For example, customer service was a top area in Latin America, as was processes, procedures, and business practices. Respondents in EMEA identified professional- or industry-specific skills as a top area, while those in North America identified new employee orientation.

These differences likely reflect the specific business needs of organizations or industries in each region. However, the universal emphasis on interpersonal skills suggests that most companies are on the same page, regardless of geography.

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a former ATD research analyst. Her responsibilities included preparing surveys, analyzing data, and writing research reports.

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