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Planning for the Future? Your Workforce May Fall Short of Essential Skills

SHL’s team forecasts which skills will matter most and predicts skill shortages for the future workforce.

There’s no doubt that the world of work is changing more rapidly than ever before. In fact, in the recent SIOP Top 10 Workplace Trends survey, over 800 Industrial/Organizational Psychologists voted “The Changing Nature of Work” as the #7 trend that organizations were likely to face in 2019. With all the talk about the ‘new world of work’ you may find yourself wondering how you can establish a workforce that will help your organization remain successful in times of unprecedented change.

A recent research effort undertaken by SHL’s Research & Development (R&D) team leveraged over 16 million data points to uncover insights about how both the demands of jobs and skills of the workforce are changing. Understanding the world of work is one piece of the puzzle but identifying the gaps between the skills that will be required for success and skills of the workforce is key for organizations to remain successful as the world of work continues to evolve.

To answer these questions, we leveraged two key data assets:

  • What are the projected skill needs for the future workforce?
    We reviewed ten years of job analysis questionnaires, including 12 million data points from more than 800 separate projects with more than 300 client companies to identify trends in the performance areas that the workforce needs to be successful.
  • Where are the gaps in the skills of the talent pool?
    We examined eight years of assessment data from applicants and employees, including 4.63 million data points from nearly 6,000 client companies in 200+ countries to project critical skill shortfalls, now and in the future.


Identifying the gaps between the skills that will be required for success and skills of the workforce is key for organizations.


Which skills will be most important in the future?

Using SHL’s Universal Competency Framework, a proven performance taxonomy for measuring, tracking, and predicting critical skills over time, we identified a slow but steady trend in four skill areas that are likely to become increasingly more critical in the future:

  1. Learning, creativity, and innovation
  2. Adaptability and resilience
  3. Collaboration and communication
  4. Commercial thinking and business acumen

How does the workforce stack up against these demands?

There is a growing mismatch generated by the inability of the workforce to acquire these critical skills. As older generations are reaching retirement and younger generations begin to dominate the workforce, findings show that the future workforce will be less prepared in these critical areas, which has important implications for how organizations assess and develop talent.

Combining insights from our own data sources with the latest industry research, our research and development leaders outlined tangible recommendations on what organizations should stop, continue, or start doing to remain successful in the new world of work.

Discover our resources on the key skills of the future here.

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Kristin Allen

Kristin Allen is a Senior Manager, Psychometrics on SHL’s Research & Development team, with over 10 years of experience in the talent assessment industry. Kristin is leading SHL’s Neurodiversity Research Program and has expertise in behavioral assessments and competency models. Kristin holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Florida International University.

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