Rachel Smith looks at the top 10 job skills of tomorrow and draws parallels between those skills and the management consulting industry. It comes as no surprise that consultants are already using these skills as part of their repertoire, and despite the technological changes/disruption caused by COVID19, being a consultant is more relevant than ever.
Analytical thinking and innovation. Complex problem solving. Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility. You may think these capabilities have been lifted straight from the ‘Required Skills’ section of a management consultancy job description as they are involved in many of the day-to-day tasks a consultant faces across all industries, but you’d be mistaken. These are three of the top ten skills that the World Economic Forum has published as part of their Future of Jobs report, which covers trends in the types of skills that will be necessary in 2025 following more technology innovation in the workplace. The report highlights how a ‘double disruption’ of both technological change and the long-term organisational impacts of Covid-19 will result in 50% of all employees needing to reskill by 2025. As more roles involve technology and data, people in the workforce will need to develop greater resilience, critical thinking and active learning capabilities, amongst others.
Top 10 skills of 2025
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity, originality and initiative
- Leadership and social influence
- Technology use, monitoring and control
- Technology design and programming
- Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
- Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation
Source: Future of Jobs Report 2020, World Economic Forum
So, where do consultants fit in?
Firstly, consultants have always specialised in managing change, using their expertise and experience to help clients improve business performance. A key element of this remit is data analysis, critically assessing the situation and developing a solution in innovative and practical ways. Consultants employ active learning to fully understand their client’s strategic position before they can successfully implement the chosen recommendations, often using advanced technologies to deliver the required outcomes.
Clearly, the WEF’s top ten skills of 2025 are already being used by consultants across multiple industries. Does this mean that consultants are in a better position to navigate the jobs of tomorrow? The answer is most likely yes, as consultants have developed the adaptability to master the skills that accompany new industrial and economic trends. This adaptability allows them to stay ahead of the curve and provide original and highly valued recommendations to their clients. All this indicates that consulting is becoming even more relevant in the current skills climate – training to be a consultant will set you in good stead to land one of the jobs of the future.
The second point is more broadly applicable. If 50% of all employees need to reskill within the next five years as outlined by the WEF, they will need a methodology and strategy to develop these new skills. Enter the consultant. Not only do consultants have these fundamental skills themselves, they also provide the services to help others attain these new capabilities. The time required to upskill will depend on each industry, however. For example, the Future of Jobs report found that it would take 1.2 months to gain the skills above in sales or marketing, but financial services reskilling may take over 6 months. Particularly with longer-term projects, there is scope for consultants to help in the reskilling process – whether that be through personal expertise or offering structured development programs. By applying the top ten skills, consultancies can help their clients to build their own skills to deal with future disruptions, creating a positive feedback loop. The consultancy industry is fundamental to ensuring that businesses realise the opportunities that emerge as a result of disruption.
Dealing with the ‘earthquakes’ of technological change and the pandemic has led to a set of key skills that, if implemented, will help mitigate challenges as they arise and turn disruptions into opportunities. When looking at consultants, you’ll see two things: the WEF’s top ten skills in action, and the offer of services to help your own staff adapt and reskill. Herein lies the strength of the consultancy industry. In the time of the ‘new normal’, significant technological change and economic uncertainty, being a consultant has never been so relevant.