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Skills gaps in tech

Luo Siao Ping, Head & Vice President (Human Resources)

December 1, 2023

Skills gaps in tech

Key Takeaways

    1. The global talent shortage

    2. What are personal effectiveness skills?​

    3. Why do personal effectiveness skills matter more than you think?​

Looking ahead to the year 2030, a study by Korn Ferry across 20 economies, predicts that the world is poised to face a talent deficit of approximately 85.2 million workers across finance/business services, technology/media/ telecommunications, and manufacturing. This shortage is expected to potentially lead to a staggering $8.5 trillion in missed annual revenue by that same year, equivalent to the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Germany and Japan.

While technology is widely championed for future growth, the crucial role of human capital may have been overlooked. It is essential to recognise that technology alone cannot deliver the promised productivity gains if there are insufficient skilled human workers (“skills gap”). This has, therefore, set the stage for a global talent crunch.

In essence, a "skills gap" refers to the disparity between the skills employers expect from their workforce and the actual skills staff possesses. This mismatch poses potential challenges for employers when it comes to filling open positions, and it is not limited to technical skills; it also extends to the non-technical or “personal effectiveness skills” often emphasised by Human Resources professionals.

What are personal effectivness skills?  

Personal effectiveness skills—often known as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills”—are personal attributes and abilities that facilitate effective interaction with others in professional settings.  These skills are not easily quantifiable but are essential for success across various industries and professions. They include effective collaboration, time management and clear communications, etc. 

Research from prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center consistently indicates that a whopping 85% of career successes can be attributed to possessing strong personal effectiveness skills. While staying current with technical and digital competencies is imperative, nurturing self-awareness and developing personal effectiveness skills are equally important.  


Luo Siao Ping, Head & Vice President (Human Resources) at Activate, has identified the key personal effectiveness skills sought by tech companies and outlined strategies for cultivating them.  

"These skills are not easily quantifiable but are essential for success across various industries and professions."

Top personal effectiveness skills most valued by tech companies 


Adaptability is key in an ever-evolving world defined by VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity). Much like “Allostasis”, a concept introduced by researchers to describe how the body maintains stability after undergoing changes in response to different stressors, individuals must adapt while navigating challenges to stay ahead. Resisting change can lead to missed learning opportunities and hinder career growth. Conversely, having adaptable staff enables organisations to rebound from setbacks quickly, reassess situations, and adjust their approach to changing circumstances.  

Conflict management 

Conflict is a natural aspect of workplace interactions, as individuals with diverse perspectives and objectives collaborate. This is where conflict management comes into play, as it offers a structured approach to address disputes or disagreements constructively and effectively. It is a skill set that encompasses key components like strong communication, listening, empathy, negotiation skills, and a focus on collaboration and common ground. These skills are crucial in matrix organisational structures, where accountability spans across multiple stakeholders rather than one, as seen in traditional corporate setups.

Avoiding a “winner” and “loser” mindset is important in conflict management. Instead, the focus should be on identifying shared goals, fostering unity, and achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. 

Critical and structured thinking 

Critical thinking empowers individuals to approach challenges strategically and analytically, enhancing their decision-making capabilities. A critical thinker evaluates arguments, identifies flaws, considers multiple perspectives, and generates solutions. This skill set enables them to foster an understanding of both short-term consequences and long-term implications.

Structured thinking, on the other hand, serves as a structured framework for organising thoughts and ideas coherently. It helps to break down complex problems into manageable components, allowing individuals to comprehend how these parts fit together to form a complete picture. 

The synergy of these two thinking skills yields a potent decision-making combination.  

Emotional intelligence 

Emotional intelligence, commonly referred to as EQ, refers to the ability to recognise and understand one’s emotions and those of others. In today’s collaborative work environments, the skill is crucial for navigating complex social dynamics and fostering effective teamwork. It enables the delivery of constructive feedback respectfully, leading to successful outcomes and stronger relationships.

High EQ individuals can motivate peers and handle challenges gracefully, using empathy to defuse tense situations and positively influence those around them.

Effective communication 

Effective communication is essential for building strong relationships with colleagues, clients and stakeholders. It involves articulation of messages clearly and compellingly, understanding others' needs, and constructive feedback. Employers value professionals who foster relationships, especially in teamwork.

In written communication, proficiency extends beyond grammar to concise and direct messaging, excluding unnecessary words. Conversely, verbal communication relies on clarity and brevity, complemented by an appropriate tone of voice and body language. It also entails understanding non-verbal cues and adjusting the message appropriately.

Universally recognised as a critical professional trait, effective communication is highly sought after by employers across various industries and professions. 

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