Asian CEOs believe soft skills are most important

With global megatrends like digitization, workforce demographic change and convergence of industries, most CEOs say soft skills and people skills are required to embrace the disruptions and address the skills gaps and talent shortages.

A majority of some 500 CEOS surveyed in The Economist Corporate Network’s (ECN) Skills 4.0: How CEOs shape the future of work in Asia admitted that these are skills that they neither appreciate of use today.

But moving forward, more than 60% of CEOS strongly agreed that soft skills and people skills will be most required by businesses to respond effectively to future challenges. Among the soft skills most needed are problem-solving co-ordinating with others and people management.

In fact, more than 70% of the C-Suite believe that soft skills are more important than hard skills for their business, and only 19% of CEOS named hard skills as the most-sought after skill in the future.

More priority should be given soft skills training, says said Florian Kohlbacher, Director of ECN North Asia and author of the report. That’s because hard skills can be more easily acquired, and often conveyed through in-house training, but soft skills are much more difficult to build.

The survey also found that CEOs need to be more involved in the process of skills development.

“CEOs will have to reconsider the priorities to make sure their businesses are staying ahead of the curve. Time constraints are obviously a classic conundrum for executives,” said Kohlbacher.

“But given the rising importance of mega trends, mega changes and skill development, it’s about time that CEOs break these time constraints and become more actively involved in these strategically important decisions.”

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