In recent years, much has been made of soft skills, or transferable skills, that allow workers to succeed in a variety of roles. As skills gaps widen and the demand for various skills changes, however, both workers and employers can benefit from a focus not only on transferable skills, but also on skills related to a worker’s core career focus.
The latter, known as adjacent skills, include both transferable and technical skills. Developed effectively, these skills can help workers adapt to the fast-paced change that characterizes today’s business world.
Defining “Adjacent Skills”
In 2017, researchers at McKinsey predicted that up to 14 percent of the global workforce, or 375 million workers, may require new skill sets by 2030, as automation and other advances make their existing skill sets obsolete.
“The changes in net occupational growth or decline imply that a very large number of people may need to shift occupational categories and learn new skills in the years ahead,” write James Manyika and fellow researchers at McKinsey. They predict that a change in the labor force on the scale of the Industrial Revolution is on its way, with corresponding impacts on workers and on demand for certain skills.
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