New year, new skills

New year, new skills

Staying up to date digitally is important, but human skills matter more than ever

Going back to work after the New Year can be tough. Some of us return dispirited, and some hopeful. Both of these mindsets make us realise we need to learn something new or level up for a better 2022.

I often get asked about the most desirable, in-demand skills everyone should develop. Most Thais know that digital technology is transforming the world of work. However, traditional human and high-level skills are becoming increasingly important, and demand for social, emotional and higher thinking skills is growing. This means that to push your career forward or set yourself apart in the job market, you need these at every stage of life.

The skills I am talking about today will be timeless classics in 2022. “I already have those skills,” you may say. Yes, but lockdown, hybrid workplaces and generational requirements are always subtly transforming what these skills need to look like in practice.

Skills to develop better ways of doing things: Getting better results will always require better thinking about what is possible and how we do things. Every employer I speak to wants their people to innovate or creatively develop solutions and solve problems. They appreciate the value these people bring. This makes cognitive thinking skills king.

Think outside the box and approach challenges in new and unexpected ways. Try new things that may or may not work and move on from failures while celebrating successes. Learn how to tell stories because, in any job, you need to share your thinking and convince others. People prefer stories to facts because they provide context. Many companies recognise just how powerful storytelling is.

Skills that help you work better with people: These are essential whenever you need to interact with anyone. People who can connect and adapt to work with anyone are as valuable as gold. Everyone needs these skills to create better client relationships. Today’s hybrid environment has increased the demand for these skills.

But being a great face-to-face communicator is no longer enough. Now you have to be good with Zoom calls, text messages, emails, chats and more. You also need the skills to listen in the hybrid, socially distanced world.

Skills to grow yourself: We call this self-leadership; the ability to achieve your objectives. It demands a good understanding of who you are and how to use that information to guide you toward success. Self-leadership is critical to becoming a good leader of others, and to influencing others to act so goals are achieved. It starts with a growth mindset to help you become more creative, keep an open mind, stay curious, and develop new skills as needs emerge.

Skills for a digital world: There is no denying that technology is transforming work. Developing some digital skills will become a must-have for every professional. These are the skills you need to operate effectively in an increasingly digital world. This is far more than knowing how to use Microsoft Office.

McKinsey research suggests digital skills make up 70% of the fastest-growing skills worldwide. If you are a member of an older generation like me, you may feel digitally disadvantaged. You have to become and remain digitally literate. The lack of digital skills is stalling many companies’ progress, across a vast range of industries.

Skills to transform yourself in a changing world: I don’t know a single person who does not acknowledge they now need to adapt quickly to change. This requires developing the skills to make decisions whenever needed. For leaders, it includes skills to lead people through change and support them. You will be asked to do things outside of your comfort zone. Developing the skills to be adaptable means nobody needs to hold your hand while you do it.

How to get started?

  • Do some reading and see what is current.
  • Watch some videos to confirm whether you are right.
  • Look for a course or get your organisation to help.
  • Speak to people who have also developed the skills you need and learn from their experiences.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Talk to us about how SEAC can help your business during times of uncertainty at

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