In less than 40 working days, we will be bidding goodbye to 2017, but those hoping for a change in job prospects in 2018 are likely to be disappointed. Many countries are just recovering from the latest recession or dip in the economy, with unemployment and under-employment making a slow decline so far.
Yet the work pressure on professionals and executives shows no signs of diminishing. The must-have attributes that employers look for include being able to learn, plan ahead, improve communication skills and work well in a team. That’s certainly a tall order, but there are two types of skills that are especially important for positioning oneself during volatile economic times.
The World Economic Forum’s 2017 ‘Human Capital Report’ states that there are certain core, cross-functional skills that underpin a career:
- Interpersonal skills, like leadership and customer service
- Basic technology skills, like knowing how to use word-processing software and work with spreadsheets
Having a strong base in these cross-functional skills is important across industries and job titles. Interpersonal skills are unlikely to be rendered obsolete by economic volatility or the ever-changing landscape of technology; however, although cross-functional skills are versatile and likely to stand the test of time, they aren’t necessarily the ones that will launch you into a lucrative career right off the bat.
According to the Human Capital Report, younger generations tend to study more specialized fields than their forebears; for instance, today’s travel and tourism or international studies majors have more niche and specialized knowledge bases than, say, the history major of yesteryear. This broader economic trend towards specialization reflects a widening economy that demands more specific skills from the workforce as it grows.
The top ten in this year’s edition of the Human Capital Index is headed by smaller European countries: Norway (1), Finland (2), Switzerland (3). They are followed by larger economies such as the United States (4) and Germany (6).
As for the Middle East, three Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates (45), Bahrain (47) and Qatar (55), outperform the rest of the region’s Arab-speaking countries and score in the mid-range of the Index overall. Turkey (75) has developed 60 per cent of its human capital against the theoretical ideal. Saudi Arabia (82), the region’s largest economy, ranks ahead of Egypt (97), its most populous one. Algeria (112), Tunisia (115) and Morocco (118) make up the lower end of the rankings, ahead of Mauritania (129) and Yemen (130).
(Reporting by Seban Scaria)