SHL’s New Study Examines Most Sought-After PowerSkills

Organizations are prioritizing Empathy, Flexibility, Tenacity, and Kindness over a narrow focus on technical expertise; New talent insights to help leaders build a scalable skills strategy


SHL, the global leader in talent insight, has released “Skills of the Future and Where to Find Them,” a comprehensive analysis of skills in the workplace. The findings emphasize the increasing significance of behavioral or “soft skills” over technical skills in meeting the evolving demands of organizations.

With the rapid pace of change, businesses continue to see their growth and innovation impeded by skill gaps as leaders find it ever more difficult to find and develop talent for emerging roles, particularly in IT and technology.

“Accelerating skills-based hiring and talent management programs are critical for driving growth as we enter the golden age of AI,” explains Andy Nelesen, Solutions Group Leader at SHL. “With the rise of automation and robotics, and the distributed workforce, leaders must leverage skill sets that facilitate creative and innovative thinking to remain competitive and take advantage of the massive opportunities offered by the new technology.”

Building on research from Josh Bersin, SHL conducted extensive analysis, mapping Bersin’s PowerSkills framework to its assessment tool that enables organizations to accurately measure a complete set of work-relevant skills in less than 15 minutes.

Applying data from a global sample of nearly 70,000 individuals from diverse backgrounds, SHL provides an aggregated view of the unique skills profiles for each region and across six broad industry sectors: retail, healthcare, banking and financial services, manufacturing, energy, and telecommunications.

Skills vary across geography and industry

SHL’s extensive study shows every region showed a unique profile of strengths, with OptimismIntegrity, and Generosity featuring as key PowerSkills for several regions. Europeans excel in FlexibilityCommunication, and Kindness, while North Americans display Tenacity and strong Time Management skills. Across India, TeamworkGenerosity, and Optimism are prevalent, compared to IntegrityGenerosity, and Ethics in Asia.

While EmpathyFollowershipCuriosity, and Drive weren’t listed within the top attributes for any region, they were cited as critical strengths within industries. For example, Drive is abundant in the Manufacturing and Banking and Financial sectors, and Empathy in Retail and Healthcare. Tapping into shared PowerSkills across industries can provide recruiters with a fresh approach when struggling to fill open positions.

Cameron Beazley, Science Director at SHL, adds: “Our analysis also shows the emergence of PowerSkills over time, with people scoring more highly in TenacityKindness, and Time Management between 2021 and 2023. Equipped with these powerful insights, organizations will better understand their workforce to build a scalable skills strategy that can unlock potential and identify untapped skills.”

“I’m thrilled that SHL did this work, it’s so badly needed – and I’m also of course thrilled that they used PowerSkills as the framing.” — Josh Bersin, global industry analyst, author and thought leader.

The research presented in this white paper demonstrates SHL’s ability to map and measure against any skills, values, or competency frameworks for the workplace and provide objective talent insights to help inform talent decisions and programs.

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