22 Most Important Transferable Skills to Build a Future-Proof Workforce

Anete Vesere (1)

Anete Vesere

Content Marketer

Most Important Transferable Skills to Build a Future-Proof Workforce

The workforce is constantly evolving, and to stay ahead, employees need to possess essential transferable skills. There are 3 important transferable skills to keep an eye out for when hiring new employees:

  1. Problem-solving & analytical thinking. As an employer, it’s important to understand the value of problem-solving and analytical thinking when focusing on building a future-proof workforce. According to the World Economic Forum, these skills will become increasingly important in the future job market.
  2. Learning ability. The vast majority of future jobs don’t exist yet. Learning ability plays a big role in adapting to new workplace situations and tasks. And it will become one of the most important skills in the labour market of tomorrow.
  3. Teamwork/collaboration. Research shows that top-performing employees spend almost 50% of their time working collaboratively with others. Taking this statistic into consideration it becomes clear why the ability to collaborate is one of the most sought-after transferable skills (let’s be real here – it’s something stated in almost every job description you can find), thus it shouldn’t be disregarded.


However, the list of essential transferable skills can be as long as one’s imagination allows. In this blog post, we’ll explore the most important transferable skills for building a future-proof workforce.

22 Most important transferable skills to build a future-proof workforce

Different types of transferable skills

Transferable skills can be divided into 4 different pillars:

  1. People-related transferable skills.  These skills are important because they help individuals effectively communicate, collaborate, and work with others. 
  2. Business-related transferable skills. These skills are important because they help individuals understand and navigate the complex world of business. Business-related skills allow employees to make informed decisions, manage resources effectively and achieve both organisational and personal goals.
  3. Conceptualising skills. These skills are important because they enable individuals to think creatively and to develop new ideas and solutions to complex problems. They are valuable across industries as they enable individuals to effectively identify opportunities, innovate and more easily adapt to new, unexpected situations.
  4. Fundamental transferable skills. These skills are important because they provide the foundation for all other skills and abilities. As a result, allowing individuals to learn new skills and knowledge, manage their time effectively, and communicate their ideas clearly and concisely.
22 most important transferable skills

5 most important people-related transferable skills

  1. Collaboration: the process of working together to achieve a common goal, important for cross-functional teams and projects in various roles.
  2. Conflict resolution: the skill of finding a peaceful solution to a disagreement or dispute, essential for roles in human resources or management.
  3. Leadership skills: the ability to inspire and guide others towards achieving a shared vision, essential for management and executive-level roles.
  4. Relationship building: the skill of developing and maintaining strong connections with others, important for sales and customer service roles.
  5. Teamwork/collaboration: an important skill within the workplace setting, indicative of whether a person prefers to work more independently or collaborate often.

7 most important business-related transferable skills

  1. Presentation skills include the ability to convey information effectively through presentations, and is essential for roles that require giving presentations or pitches.
  2. Negotiation skill is the ability to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, and is important for roles that involve sales, management, or legal negotiations.
  3. Time management: the ability to manage and allocate time effectively, important for all roles in the workplace.
  4. Task prioritization: the skill of identifying and ranking tasks based on their level of importance or urgency, essential for any role that requires multitasking or handling a heavy workload.
  5. Planning and scheduling: the ability to create and implement a plan, important for project management and roles that require organization and coordination.
  6. Project management: the skill of leading and coordinating a project from start to finish, essential for project managers and those in leadership positions.
  7. Attention to detail: the ability to identify and correct errors or discrepancies, important for roles that require accuracy and precision, such as data entry or quality control.

5 most important conceptualising skills

  1. Critical thinking: the ability to evaluate information objectively and make reasoned judgments, essential for all roles in the workplace.
  2. Creative thinking: the capacity to generate new and innovative ideas, crucial for roles that require innovation and problem-solving.
  3. Analytical thinking: the capability to break down complex information into smaller parts to better understand it, essential for roles that involve data analysis and research.
  4. Problem-solving: the capacity to identify and solve problems effectively and efficiently, necessary for all roles in the workplace.
  5. Decision-making: the capability to make informed and effective decisions, important for roles that require leadership and management.

4 most important fundamental transferable skills

  1. Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, which is important for roles that involve customer service or managing teams.
  2. Active listening is the skill of fully concentrating on what someone is saying and is important for most roles as it enhances understanding and builds rapport.
  3. Verbal communication is the ability to convey information effectively through speech and is essential for most roles as it enables clear communication with others.
  4. Written communication is the skill of expressing thoughts and ideas in writing, and is important for roles that require documentation or correspondence.


3 most important transferable skills to keep an eye out for

Problem-solving & analytical thinking

Hiring employees with these skills can greatly benefit your organization, as this skillset can help your company overcome challenges, improve efficiency, and achieve its goals.

By recognizing the importance of problem-solving and analytical thinking, you can seek out candidates with these skills and provide training opportunities to further enhance their abilities. This investment ultimately will lead to a more effective and successful workforce.

Learning ability

  • Individual. Learning ability determines how fast one can learn something new and how much one can learn in a short amount of time. This reflects the capability of reducing skill gaps in the shortest possible time frame. Provided that the world is evolving and technology is advancing, stakeholders’ needs are also changing according to the new environments. 
  • Organisational. The learning culture of a company directly impacts its financial performance, either through improving revenue or reducing costs. Cultivating a learning culture could promote employee retention, therefore reducing turnover costs and new hire costs.

On top of that, learning ability (which is part of our cognitive abilities) has proven to be the most significant predictor of work performance, with a correlation of 0.65-0.74 (source).


Some of us love working independently, while others love working together. Some of us prefer asking for feedback more frequently, while others want to try out things themselves first. And some of us desire consensus, while others desire efficiency. There is no right or wrong here.

If you want your team to be successful, you’ll need people from both sides of this spectrum, depending on their responsibilities and tasks within the team, as well as the current representation of the team. Simple because both sides of the spectrum have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Assessing transferable skills

When it comes to building a workforce that can thrive in the future, transferable skills are crucial – that is clear. However, it’s important to note that the specific skills considered essential may vary between companies and roles. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to identify the most important skills for success in each role and prioritize them when hiring. 


Here are two ways this can be done:

  • One way to objectively identify the most important skills is by using a competency-based approach. This involves defining the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required for success in each role and then assessing candidates against these competencies.
  • Another approach is to use skill assessments or aptitude tests that measure specific transferable skills, such as learning ability or problem-solving. These tests provide valuable & objective insights into a candidate’s abilities and potential for growth, making it easier to select the right candidate for the role.


By prioritizing the assessment of transferable skills and using objective methods to evaluate them, you can build a future-proof workforce that is equipped to navigate changes and thrive in the face of new challenges.

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