Essential Skills for the Next Decade

We have always sought to speed up work. We have always tried to make it easier, quicker, and cheaper, from the first use of rocks and wood as instruments to the development of the production line. A recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute has illustrated how AI and robotics will impact a number of jobs dependent on human skills today. The report also highlights the top three skill sets that employees will need to build from now until 2030 if they want to succeed. The study puts job abilities into five different categories: physical and manual; cognitive basic; social and emotional; cognitive higher; and technical. Staff in a wide range of occupations use many of these skills (Jezard, 2018). Therefore, physical and functional capabilities require activities that can be carried out by comparatively unskilled employees, such as drivers and assembly line workers, as well as professional workers, including electricians, nurses, and craftsmen. Jobs such as cashiers, customer support agents, and others participating in low-level data entry and distribution, such as data entry and clerks, requires technical skills such as basic literacy and math skills.

Nevertheless, a wide range of activities done by people skilled in that expertise is expected to be automated in the US and 14 Western European countries, the study finds (Jezard, 2018). Skilled and manual jobs in the United States we are expected to see an 11% decline from the 90 billion hours employed in 2016, whilst the 113 billion hours working in Western Europe will be cut by 16%. The sum of hours spent on intellectual critical skills in the US was 53 billion in 2016, with a 14 percent decline in 2030, and a 17 percent decrease in Western Europe’s 62 billion hours (Jezard, 2018).

The skills to have

Higher cognitive skills: these skills include advanced reading and communication skills, mathematical and mathematical analysis, and abstract evaluation of knowledge. Usually they are used for doctors, accountants, statistical researchers, authors, and editors.

Soft skills: these comprise of advanced listening and persuasion, empathy, the capacity to actively read, handle people and be adaptable. Such skills are required for programming, business development, emergency management and therapy occupations.

Technological Skills: this includes anything from fundamental skills to advanced, data processing, engineering, data science. When enterprises recruit more software developers, architects, robotics engineers and data science experts, these are the capabilities that are expected to be the most widely paid.

The study also predicts that in 2030 the requirement for higher mental abilities in the US would grow 9% over the 62 billion hours reported in 2016, and in the same timeframe, the 78 billion hours working in Western Europe would increase by another 7% (Jezard, 2018). Besides that, the market for social and communication skills in the US is 26 percent higher than the 52 billion hours seen during 2016, and Western Europe is 26 percent higher than the 67 billion two years earlier. It is employees with technical expertise who will face the largest numerical increase in need for their jobs by 2030: a rise of 60 percent over the 31 billion hours working in the US in 2016 and a 52 percent rise over the 42 billion hours employed in Western Europe (Jezard, 2018).


Jezard, A. (2018, June 1). The 3 key skill sets for the workers of 2030. World Economic Forum.