Language learning insights for companies

The training priority mismatch: Skills of the future workforce

Do you remember which were the most wanted skills in your field just a few years ago? You will probably realize that they were much different from what is expected today of the future workforce. In this fast-changing world, we can only expect the demand for hard and soft skills to continue evolving rapidly.

Most companies seem to be focusing on innovation, creative thinking, and change management today to be successful in the future. But it’s important to prioritize trainings that will maximize the development of the existing workforce ensuring employees are happy, engaged and motivated and then attract highly skilled talent to remain competitive in the future.

The challenge for HR today is to reassess how it uses innovation to build a workforce fit for the future, particularly in an increasingly globalized world. Rising competition and lower consumer spend also means that companies are trying to do more with less, leading to greater stress and worker fatigue.

Business leaders understand the importance of empowering their employees with the skills for the 21st century, and training is an important part of most budgets. But are training resources spent on the right fields; and are they aligned with the business needs that make the bottom line?

Our recent research where we interviewed over 600 senior executives from global organizations, shows 3 crucial skills that organizations need to train their employees on.

3 training priorities to empower the future workforce:

Employee Engagement and leadership

Leadership is recognized as the biggest priority for talent training over the next 5 to 10 years. It will enable companies to maximize efficiency in order to reach business objectives. But due to a lack of time or skills, organizations don’t feel confident in delivering this training.

As one of the skills that organizations have the least confidence in delivering, motivation has not been recognized as a top training priority. The reason seems to be simple. Organizations tend to motivate employees through financial rewards, and without it, motivating staff can be time-consuming.

Without a highly motivated workforce, business goals become harder to reach and can be a major cause of high employee turnover. There’s no question that organizations need to focus on employee motivation before they look into other ways of improving performance.


Creativity and flexibility

Creative thinking is seen as a priority for talent training. However, it’s not an easy skill to train on. As with employee engagement, the keys to fostering creativity are likely to lie in measures that deliver new experiences and development situations, such as learning about new cultures or taking on new tasks. The biggest barrier to fostering creativity is a lack of know-how about how to do it.

Flexibility is an essential skill in today’s fast-changing business world. Employees need to be agile and flexible to adapt to change efficiently. Once again, it seems to be a skill that organizations are not training their employees on, mainly due to a lack of time.

In fact, lack of time is the main problem associated with delivering 10 out of 21 different employee challenges. This highlights a crucial need for efficient, light-touch human resources strategies that can achieve results in a short period of time.

Even though lack of time is the main driver for delivering certain skills, it’s not an area that can be improved through training and therefore, it is not listed as a training priority.


Language and communication

Language and communication skills are essential in order to attract international talent, tap into new talent pools that may have been out of reach in the past, and to remain competitive in the international business world.

Increasingly globalized business means the need to communicate effectively across borders will only continue growing.

Languages proficiency – such as English, the language of the modern workplace – enables international collaboration and access to the best mind in their fields allowing employees to stay abreast of international best practices.


Although these 3 training priorities are crucial for the future workforce, it’s not where the training priorities of most companies lie today. Businesses need to urgently re-align their HR investments to ensure their workforce is motivated and happy. Otherwise, your training investment could be money down the drain when employees leave.

A workforce fit for the future Find out more

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