It’s no secret that the demands of the workplace are changing. Whether it’s adapting to a remote or hybrid setting, building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations, or finding new ways to enhance productivity, working in a state of constant flux is now accepted and expected. 

All this change doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has a very real impact on employees and their ability to excel. Keeping up with constant change, both in the industry and the workplace, is a serious challenge. This is why nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organizations either face skill gaps already or expect them to develop within the next five years.

As the workplace is changing, so is our understanding of the skills that will help employees succeed in the near future. 

It’s time to rethink the “hard” and “soft” skills labels

The most in-demand skills aren’t just about staying ahead of the technology curve. Skills related to leadership, teamwork, communication, productivity, and wellness are critical to every employee’s performance. This is why 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. 

Josh Bersin taps into the growing unease in the HR and L&D community about using the terms “hard” and “soft” skills. He writes, “Hard Skills are soft (they change all the time, are constantly being obsoleted, and are relatively easy to learn), and Soft Skills are hard (they are difficult to build, critical, and take extreme effort to obtain).”

Why we prefer the term “power skills”

So which terms should we use instead? Josh Bersin and other HR and L&D leaders advocate using the term “power skills.” 

Why “power skills”? These skills are what give employees power at work. Power to collaborate, power to communicate effectively, and power to lead. 

When it comes to developing training programs for the world’s leading companies, we at Udemy Business believe these skills should be top-of-mind when building a robust training program. Udemy’s Chief Learning Officer Melissa Daimler writes, “Power skills have always been an important part of workplace learning, and their importance has only grown more urgent as the global workforce navigates the changes of the last few years. Enabling employees to develop power skills related to communication, collaboration, and change leadership is key to building an agile business and a strong company culture.”

After all, these are core competencies that all employees need — whether they’re in a financial, technical, administrative, sales, or marketing role. So goodbye, soft skills. Welcome to the new era of power skills.

Explore the power skills that will lead your organization into the future

Wondering which power skills your employees should be prioritizing in 2022 and beyond? We’ve combed through the data of Udemy Business learners to identify the trending skills and topics. Download the 2022 Workplace Learning Trends Report to explore the power skills that will define the future of work.