Tomorrow’s key skills will be behavioral

by Aug 5, 2021Best Practices, Competency Based Management (CBM), Leadership

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is disrupting almost every sector of activity worldwide. In this new era, solid technical skills are no longer enough. Soft skills are increasingly in demand. Tomorrow, human capital will make all the difference...

Cross-disciplinary skills in demand


Companies today need to focus on cross-functional skills, which are highly strategic in today’s war for talent. Laurent Hurstel, Director at Robert Walters[1], is convinced: “Companies are demanding in terms of the profiles they hire, because market share is hard to win. They are therefore looking for candidates capable of doing several jobs in the course of their career.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Report entitled “Preparing for the Future of Work”, here are the top 10 key skills that will be required in 2020:

top 10 skills between 2020 and 2015



Virtually all these key skills are behavioral, with the top three being complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. In five years, creativity has moved up 7 places, while emotional intelligence has entered the list in a good position.



Businesswoman's hand touching a cube as a symbol of problem-solving

Models to be reinvented


Yet, in schools, it’s still traditional skills that are emphasized, with an overwhelming predominance of cognitive abilities, to the detriment of the development of critical thinking or collaboration. Students are ill-prepared for what really awaits them on the job market, such as having to change jobs more or less regularly, or even invent their future position.

Children have a natural aptitude for learning, which they approach through play. This ability is unfortunately hampered by traditional school techniques, such as systematic competition and grading.

On the contrary, encouraging children to learn through playful, positive experiences leads them throughout their growth, and well beyond, to cultivate critical thinking and creativity, and to grapple with complex problem-solving. And that’s above all because this method gives them self-confidence.

In the same way, recruitment and career management need to be rethought to be in line with this logic of skills, which candidates must possess to get a job, and which employees have to develop throughout their professional career, whether to progress in their current position or to apply for others.

Little girl playing at home on a little pink car to imagine traveling.

It’s possible to improve your behavioral skills!


Do you also have a traditional education? Don’t panic! Contrary to what was thought just 10 years ago, we now know that it is possible to improve behavioral skills thanks to the brain’s incredible plasticity, which enables it to modify itself through experience. “Our brain has the capacity to change, to develop new neuronal connections, every day, every hour, every minute. And contrary to popular belief, this plasticity is a lifelong phenomenon,” confirms business coach Christelle Laurent. This means that, with practice, you can “reconfigure” your operating modes. Modern medical imaging techniques have enabled scientists to observe sometimes spectacular changes in the brains of subjects who have undergone certain behavioral therapies.

To stand out from the crowd and become your best self, for example, you can learn to cultivate divergent thinking, which combines different skills: non-conformism, curiosity, risk-taking, cooperation and perseverance. The aim is to “break the mould”, as Todd Rose encourages us[1] : “Society forces each of us to conform to certain limited expectations in order to succeed at school, in our profession, in life. We all strive to be like others, or more like them. exactly to be like the others, but a little better,” he denounces in The tyranny of the norm.

To test your divergent thinking, take the paper clip test, devised by Ken Robinson[1], which consists of imagining the number of uses for a simple paper clip: will you be one of the 2% of people over the age of 25 capable of finding other ways of using this instrument than assembling sheets of paper? For your information, between the ages of 3 and 5, 98% of children are geniuses at divergent thinking…

Sources :

– Mirjam Schöning, World Economic Forum, “The skills your child needs for a future job”,

– Keljob, “Les compétences transversales, c’est quoi exactement?”,

– Stéphanie Combe, “Sortez du moule,” La Vie, May 10, 2018

– Christelle Laurent, “Can we really change?”,


Photo credits :

Jakub Jirsak / 123RF
Sergey Nivens / 123RF
Yarruta / 123RF
Arloo / 123RF

[1]International recruitment firm.

[1]Director of the Laboratory for the Science of the Individual at Harvard.

[1]Education expert, specializing in the development of creativity and innovation.