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Power, technical, and tactical skills: reframing the skills conversation

  • Publish Date: Posted 4 months ago
  • Author: Zara Winstanley
Nine in ten executives admit that their organisation is already facing skill gaps or expect to see these gaps become more paramount in the coming years. Add to this, the Great Resignation and leaders find themselves at a crossroads.
We know that digital and AI technologies are transforming the world of work and that today’s workforce will need to learn new skills and learn to continually adapt as new occupations emerge. We also know that the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated this transformation. The need for manual and physical skills, as well as basic cognitive ones, will decline, but demand for technological, social, and emotional, and higher cognitive skills will grow. Therefore, the priorities of leaders for the year ahead must shift to ensuring top talent not only stays with the company but that their skills can evolve quickly enough to stay competitive. 
In this article, we explore the changing conversation around skills, how power skills are replacing soft skills and why they are the key to future-proofing your company, how to empower employees with tactical skills to gain competitive advantage and why tech skills are intrinsic to modern-day business strategy. The purpose of this piece? To reframe the conversation, showcasing that fostering an ‘always on’ learning culture is essential to addressing skills gaps and creating productive, high achieving and, most importantly, sustainable workforces of the future.

Power, technical, and tactical skills: reframing the skills conversation
POWER SKILLS: Bye, bye soft skills, welcome to the era of the power skill 

“In a labour market that is more automated, digital, and dynamic, all citizens will benefit from having a set of foundational skills” - McKinsey & Company: Defining the skills citizens will need in the future world of work

What are power skills?

The most in-demand skills aren’t just about staying ahead of the technical curve. Skills related to leadership, teamwork, communication, productivity, and wellness are critical to every employee’s performance, fostering belonging, motivating teams and spearheading strategy. Therefore, it no longer makes sense to call them "soft skills," as if they represent a less important set of skills in the workplace. These skills aren’t just nice to have. They’re essential for changing the workplace.

The top power skills employers will be looking for in 2022:

  • Communication 

  • Time management 

  • Teamwork 

  • Research

  • Goal setting

  • Leadership

  • Creative thinking

  • Positive mindset

Why power skills are the key to future-proofing your company

Research from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that no matter the sector, occupation, or geographical region, every employee needs a foundational set of power skills that allow them to:

  • Add value beyond what can be done by automated systems and intelligent machines

  • Operate in a digital environment

  • Continually adapt to new ways of working and new technologies

Workplace demands have evolved and will continue to progress and change alongside the development of technology and social changes in the wake of a post-pandemic world. This seismic shift and societal upheaval have provided and new perspective upon what is valued in the workplace. Power skills hone one’s power to communicate, the power to learn, the power to collaborate and the power to lead. Power skills are reframing the workplace.

TACTICAL SKILLS: Tactical skills to empower non-technical employees 

“Nearly nine in 10 (88%) executives say their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal.” PwC survey

What’s the big deal about tactical skills?

Employees are making career changes they might not have imagined before the pandemic. Therefore, the priorities of leaders for the year ahead must shift to ensuring top talent not only stays with the company but that their skills can evolve quickly enough to stay competitive. Investing in career workforce development and learning opportunities facilitates employee productivity keeping employees engaged and satisfied in their work, boosting employee retention, and supporting the innovation needed to grow revenue. 

It is paramount for employees and candidates to feel they have room and opportunities to grow within the business so organisations need to review and remodel their hiring and retention techniques and processes. Power skills, though important for an employee’s development don’t necessarily target the day-to-day function of their role, so take time to analyse which skills make sense for your employees to add to their learning plans. 

Examples of tactical skills are:

  • Business intelligence

  • Design and UX

  • Finance and accounting

  • HR and talent development

  • Marketing

  • Project management 

  • Customer experience


The importance of ‘always on learning’ channels

The number of people in search of roles that also provide additional learning opportunities has increased by over 4 times since before the pandemic. 

For employees to stay with or join your organization, you must convince them that they’ll have the opportunity to grow. Just as all employees need power skills development, every employee should be encouraged to develop the tactical skills that will help them excel in the day-to-day functions of their role. Offering always-on learning channels is a win-win. Your company keeps the needle steady on talent retention, and employees develop a career path within your organisation.

Many organisations are now implementing methods to upskill their existing employees to get them up to scratch with the rapidly advancing use of tech throughout the business. Amazon for example has invested in and launched training programmes in efforts to upskill their employees and transform their roles into technical ones. 

TECHNICAL SKILLS: The technical skills demand 

40% of CEO’s today recognise their tech leaders and chief information officers are key to driving future business strategies.  Deloitte Intelligence Survey

Tech strategy is business strategy 

Technical teams can unlock new capabilities and commercial opportunities and increase productivity and speed to market. With technological direction no longer separate from an organisation’s success and competitive edge, we see business strategy becoming increasingly interwoven with technical strategy.

Technical skills have, therefore, never been more in demand. 

Tech skills are no longer exclusive to tech roles

With tech and tech skills so intrinsically linked with business strategy, technical roles must no longer be exclusive to the job titles they are traditionally associated, if a tech team is to remain agile. For example, as companies incorporate cloud solutions into their infrastructure, most tech employees will require some familiarity with cloud computing technologies. 

The pandemic and permanent move to hybrid working has accelerated companies use and need for cloud technology and complementary to this, sophisticated cyber security. Cloud computing has been rated as one of the most sought-after technical skills alongside artificial intelligence and big data. Top 5 surging cloud computing skills 2021 

  • Google Cloud

  • Microsoft AZ-500 

  • Microsoft Azure 

  • Amazon AWS 

  • Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect 

Data Science, IT Operations and Software Development will be the next most in-demand technical skills of the year. Given the increasing importance of using data to make quicker, better and more efficient decisions, the ability to build and use data effectively are key skills. Likewise, coding experience is now becoming a required skill as opposed to a desired one across all tech functions. With developers releasing code up to two times faster than before, we will begin to see a shift in the importance of developer roles and an emphasis on the growing need for software development skills. 

In conclusion: A learning culture provides a competitive edge

Imagine a world where employees are responsible for their learning, discover their own skills gaps and address them proactively. Regardless of whether your employee development plans focus on technical skills, tactical skills, or power/soft skills, an internal learning culture is your competitive edge.

With learning an embedded part of an organisation's culture, the workforce is set up to become empowered by their own and others learning capabilities thus creating an unlocked potential for self and organisation. New skills equate to adaptability, engagement, and motivation, meaning a competitive business with innovative employees. 

Whether your growth requires employees to learn more tactically based skills, develop their power skills or advance their technical skills, with an ambition to learn rooted at the foundations of any business, anything is possible. 

Morson has helped clients navigate the challenges of the recruitment market for over 50 years. We give our clients experts on hand to find the right people for every type of role, from specialist technical staff to office support. But more than that, together we take a bird’s eye view of your talent, allowing us to keep spend consistent, track trends within your workforce, build diverse teams, and forecast and prepare for future skills issues and opportunities. It’s a collaboration that fuses your ambitions, objectives and intelligence with our talent expertise and market knowledge.

If you would like to find out more about our recruitment offer or want to outsource and simply don't know where to start, get in touch with Director David Lynchehaun,