Future Skills – (no) new skills we should learn to equip ourselves for the future


In this article we look at what skills and competencies we actually need to be prepared for the future in our jobs. At HRpepper, we argue that the skills of the future are not just new skills that we need to learn, but that the relevant skills of the future are a specific set of different competencies, some of which have been the basis of professional and business success for decades.

By Katherina Bravo

According to the Future of Work Report 2023 (Kimbrough et al., 2023), 47% of US executives say that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will increase work productivity. In job postings, buzzwords such as GAI and ChatGPT are 12 times more likely to be mentioned than in November 2022. At the same time, despite the innovative power of AI, 92% of respondents agree that people skills are more important than ever for organisational success (LinkedIn US Executive Confidence Index Survey, June 2023).

What then must we learn? Do we need to start over in a brand-new world with brand-new digital applications? Or should we focus on learning everything we’ve essentially always learned, but with a focus on digitalisation, which means that businesses need different skills, for example when it comes to teamwork?


Current studies on the topic of ‘Future Skills’

With its 30 identified future-critical competencies, Peter Spiegel and colleagues’ book (2021) “Future Skills – das Praxisbuch für Zukunftsgestalter” (Future Skills – the Practical Book for Future Shapers) offers a comprehensive answer to the question of what the competences of the future will be. Academics are also engaged in the search for future skills and identify a narrower selection of personal, social and methodological competences. For example, Eilers and colleagues (2022) argue that employees need an agile mindset consisting of a willingness to learn, collaborative exchange, self-direction, customer-centricity and co-creation in order to be prepared for the transformation of the organisation. Another study by Schermuly and Meifert (2023) examined the most relevant skills for working in the New Work context. Here, too, a willingness to learn and personal responsibility were found in the first two places, followed by the ability to work in a team and the ability to engage in dialogue and conflict as the leading social competences of the future. Among the most important methodological competences are problem-solving competences and digital competences. The results of these two studies also show overlaps with the skills mentioned in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, such as: technological comprehension, curiosity and lifelong learning, resilience and service orientation. These were identified among the ten skills that are expected to gain the most importance for the labour market between 2023 and 2027.

The Future Skills Set from HRpepper

At HRpepper, we have created a condensate of future competences along three central competence typologies from the studies mentioned, the results of our own survey and the experience gained from working with our clients:



The condensed Future Skills Set consists of a total of six skills that are arranged along personal, social and methodological skills. This typology is particularly well suited for systematising different competences due to their connectivity to organisations because they can be learned – and thus also trained. Cognitive skills, on the other hand, are the best indicator of professional success, but can hardly be learned or trained. The basic model for future skills developed by HRpepper can only be a starting point for companies. A learning or qualification strategy must be individually tailored and adapted to the company in order to derive the individual qualification needs along the competence typology.


Investing in employees

In conclusion, future competences are not new skills, but the combination and systematisation of competences is an approach with which organisations can specifically address their own future capability. This not only helps the organisation to be clear about the necessary strategic direction of training provision within the organisation, but also promotes employee loyalty. This is because employees perceive an existing training offer in the company as a source of esteem and security in the performance of their work and as particularly important in order to be able to keep pace in their career (Bitkom & HRpepper, 2023).

*Result of the study: 38 % of the interviewed HR managers are sure that their company has a continuing education strategy.