There’s no getting around it – we need skills to be successful, but which skills will serve you best in today’s digitally-disrupted world?

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has just updated its list of the most in-demand skills people will need in 2020, based on six factors of change:

  • Longer service life
  • The rise of machines and systems
  • A fully computerized world
  • A new media ecology
  • Hyper-structured organizations
  • A globally more connected society

The report analyzes key drivers that will reshape the landscape of work and identifies the key work skills needed in the next 10 years. Rather than trying to predict specific job categories or labour requirements, the report considers the capabilities and proficiencies that will be required across different jobs and work settings.

The research identifies 10 workplace skills that the IFTF believes are fundamentally important for any future worker:

  1. Sense-Making – ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed;
  2. Social Intelligence – ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense;
  3. Novel and Adaptive Thinking – proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based;
  4. Cross Cultural Competence – ability to operate in different cultural settings;
  5. Computational Thinking – ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning;
  6. New Media Literacy – ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication;
  7. Trans-Disciplinarity – literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines;
  8. Design Mindset – ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes;
  9. Cognitive Load Management – ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques; and
  10. Virtual Collaboration – ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.


The research has implications for governments, educational institutions, business and individuals who need to consider how to prepare for roles of the future to ensure their continued relevance.

The complete IFTF report can be found here: Future Work Skills 2020.  (Graphic attached)