The skills employers want in 2020

top ten skills (China)

With the fast-paced world of technology continuing to alter the most desired skills sets of trainees, employers in 2020 will be looking for a raft of skills, including experience of digital software packages.

The software skill that is constantly in demand is Excel. Employers will almost certainly want trainees who know their way round PivotTables and the HLOOKUP and VLOOKUP functions in Excel, in order to help boost trainee productivity and understanding of large detailed sets of data.

Other popular packages likely to be in demand in 2020 include Sage, Intuit QuickBooks, Oracle, NetSuite and Xero.

Hays director of south east finance, Lee Owen, said: ‘Technology is influencing our world of work at a faster pace than it ever has before and is changing the skills landscape dramatically.

‘As roles are adapting and evolving, it is innate, human skills, such as our creativity, which will hold the highest value. Because of this, employers will be looking for trainees who approach their role creatively by problem solving, strategising and coming up with new ideas.’

A variety of soft and technical skills

Communication skills, creativity and the ability to build relationships and collaborate will be highly desired in 2020 too.

‘Employers will be looking for strong communicators and creativity in the trainees they bring on,’ adds Owen.

‘Employers want trainees who can participate in discussions, listen to the ideas of others and speak confidently to people at all levels of an organisation, all while maintaining a professional manner. After all, good communication is the difference between coming up with an idea and making it have a real impact on the business.’

Soft skills such as a willingness to learn will also be very attractive in 2020, as will be being proactive and thinking outside the box. Employers will be looking for trainees who can add value and think for themselves.

Cultural fit will also be essential. Trainees who have had a sandwich year, a year’s experience, any kind of paid internships or voluntary experience, will be sought after.

Likewise, extra-curricular achievements and experiences, voluntary work that shows communication skills and teamwork, will be attractive.

Having a commercial insight and understanding will also be highly desirable among employers, as will trainees with a firm grip on their own learning and training plans – plus, how those plans fit in with an employer and relevant industries.

Be proactive

Owen adds: ‘As skills are changing so rapidly due to the influence of technology, employers are looking for trainees who are proactive when it comes to their learning.

‘Employers will be impressed by trainees who take the time to figure out a training plan with their manager and understand the direction the organisation is going in.

‘Taking initiative in this area isn’t just restricted to formal learning, as there are plenty of beneficial online courses, free events and articles trainees can utilise to demonstrate a proactive approach to learning.’

People management will also be critical as we move into the 2020s. Having an ability to motivate, develop and manage people as they work, as well as identify the best possible people for the job, are skills that are certain to be in demand.

This article was first published in Student Accountant

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