Report: Social skills will increasingly be needed alongside technical skills in the future

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The need for skills related to digitalisation and technological change is growing strongly. In addition, multicultural skills and an understanding of social sustainability will become more important. The Finnish National Agency for Education analysed changes in competence needs by 2040. The National Forum for Skills Anticipation assessed the impact of these changes on general competences that are needed across sectors and occupations.
Workers in a meeting

In the survey, experts from the National Forum for Skills Anticipation were asked to assess the long-term impact of changes on the skills needs of working life. The change phenomena considered were energy transition, economic change, increasing security threats and demographic developments. Their impact on competences needed in several sectors was assessed.

The results show that the change phenomena examined are increasing the skills needs related to digitalisation and technological change. The need for cybersecurity skills is particularly highlighted due to increased security threats. The digitalisation of social and welfare services also increases the need to manage remote and virtual services.

- Digitalisation is advancing and affecting all sectors. In the future, it will be increasingly important to recognise the potential of digitalisation, artificial intelligence and automation in your work and to be able to apply it. Knowledge of data management, analysis and its use in decision-making is also key," says Miia Jaatinen, Senior adviser at the Finnish National Agendy for Education.

Alongside technical skills, strong social skills will also be needed in the future. Demographic change will increase the need for skills to work in a multicultural and diverse environment. 

- Workers will increasingly encounter colleagues and customers from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Language skills and an understanding of cultural approaches are important to be able to collaborate in a diverse working environment and to serve clients from different cultural backgrounds, says Jaatinen.

In service development and customer service work, it is also essential to be able to take into account the different needs of customers of different ages.

The need to understand social and ethical sustainability will also become more important in the future. The experts of the National Forum for Skills Anticipation highlighted that sustainability should be seen from a broader perspective, not only from an environmental and economic point of view. Competences are needed to promote equity and ensure well-being for all. Work communities should be managed so that employees from different backgrounds all feel part of the community and diversity is seen as a strength.

Continuous competence development increasingly important

The results of the survey also clearly show that rapid economic change is making continuous competence development increasingly important.

- Working life is creating new types of jobs and work communities. This requires the ability to identify new competence needs and to deliver short training courses that allow skills to be upgraded quickly. Workers also need meta-skills such as learning to learn, knowledge search skills, the ability to apply knowledge and the ability to co-create knowledge. Employers, on the other hand, need the skills to inspire and support employees in developing their competence, Jaatinen says.

The results are presented in full in a report, which provides an overview of changes in skills needs by the phenomena assessed and in general. The report is in Finnish. 

The National Forum for Skills Anticipation (OEF) is a joint expert body of the Finnish National Agency for Education and the Ministry of Education and Culture, which brings together a wide range of experts from education and working life to forecast future skills and education needs.

More information
Senior adviser Miia Jaatinen029 533 1550miia.jaatinen [at] (miia[dot]jaatinen[at]oph[dot]fi)