Navigating the Future of Work: Insights, Challenges, and Strategies for Global Mobility Pros, Employers

About 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years, according to the Future of Jobs Survey by the World Economic Forum. A resounding 85% of surveyed organizations pinpoint the increased adoption of new and cutting-edge technologies, alongside the expansion of digital access, as the driving forces poised to reshape work for their employees. 

Fortunately, PwC’s latest Global Workforce Hopes and Fears survey found out that a sizable number of employees are eager to learn new skills, embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and tackle new challenges; if only, employers can also tolerate dissenting ideas or small-scale failures. 

In this rapidly evolving landscape, both studies see analytical thinking and creative thinking as the most critical skills for workers. Analytical thinking takes the top spot, followed by creative thinking, reflecting the importance of adaptability in the face of disruptions. Dependability and attention to detail, technological literacy, empathy, active listening, leadership, social influence, and quality control round out the top 10 core skills. 

Analytical thinking tops the priority list for skills training initiatives, accounting for 10% of such efforts, followed closely by creative thinking at 8%, based on studies. 

Training in AI and big data takes the third spot, with 42% of surveyed companies emphasizing its importance. Other areas of focus include leadership and social influence (40%), resilience, flexibility, and agility (32%), and curiosity and lifelong learning (30%). A majority of companies anticipate a return on investment on skills training within a year, through enhanced cross-role mobility, increased worker satisfaction, or improved worker productivity.

Global mobility professionals can benefit from these insights as they navigate the evolving job landscape for their assignees, especially given the impending labor-market disruption. This knowledge will help them better place foreign and local talents within this shifting paradigm. 

Looming workforce challenge

It’s upskilling the workforce that is the looming challenge. Six in 10 workers require training before 2027. However, only half of the workers currently have access to adequate training opportunities.

Interestingly, the skills companies perceive to be growing in importance are not always reflected in their upskilling strategies. In addition to employees’ other skills, AI and big data, leadership and social influence, design and user experience, environmental stewardship, marketing and media, and networks and cybersecurity need to be part of companies’ strategies, sometimes more prominently than their current importance suggests.

Concerns linger about talent availability in the next five years, too. Organizations identify skills gaps and difficulty attracting talent as key barriers to industry transformation. 

Consequently, 48% of companies view improving talent progression and promotion processes as a pivotal business practice to enhance talent availability, surpassing offerings of higher wages (36%) and effective reskilling and upskilling (34%).

Workforce development is largely seen as the responsibility of workers and managers, including global mobility professionals, with on-the-job training and coaching accounting for 27% of training efforts, followed by internal training departments at 23%, and employer-sponsored apprenticeships at 16%. When it comes to closing skills gaps, companies prefer in-house initiatives over external training solutions.

What mobility managers need to look into

Global mobility managers need to look into steps that can help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their workforce. A significant majority of businesses prioritize women (79%), youth under 25 (68%), and those with disabilities (51%) as part of their DEI programs. 

A smaller fraction focuses on those from disadvantaged religious, ethnic, or racial backgrounds (39%), workers over age 55 (36%), individuals identifying as LGBTQI+ (35%), and those from low-income backgrounds (33%).

Finally, mobility managers and employers would do well to know that funding for skills training takes precedence over flexibility in hiring and firing practices, incentives for improved wages, school system enhancements, and changes to immigration laws for foreign talent.

This is particularly concerning among workers without specialized training, where only 15% anticipate skill changes compared to 51% in specialized roles. Moreover, there’s a “specialization gap” in actions and attitudes, with specialized workers 1.5 times more likely to plan promotions.

When it comes to culture, mobility managers should also look into why 35% of employers tolerate failure, and 33% encourage dissent. Around half seek innovation and find jobs fulfilling.

To address all these challenges, leaders must prioritize skills, foster innovation, address financial wellness, and promote AI engagement.