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A New Era of High-Value Skills

By Paige Kassalen

The world is changing quickly. According to Pew Research, about one fifth of Americans already have jobs with “high exposure” to artificial intelligence, but 52% still feel more concerned than excited about AI. This technology is disrupting the tech industry, but what is the impact for tech professionalism?

A decade ago, engineering students were told that communication and writing skills would help them stand apart from their peers, but is that enough to stand out in 2024 and beyond? Communication skills will always be of tremendous value, but with how quickly the world is changing, it poses the question: are we entering into a new era of high-value skills?

Following are five high-value skills for the next generation of work:


Adaptability is at the top of the list of high-value skills. This is because technology grows exponentially instead of linearly, and we need to be open to trying and accepting this technology as it is released to bring value to our organizations.

It seems obvious now to adopt the use of a computer for example, but at one point people wondered if it was really going to impact the workforce. The new technologies emerging today will open a multitude of avenues we cannot even imagine, but we need to be willing to use them.

This is why adaptability is the top high-value skill in today’s jobs. When new technology emerges, those who are willing to pivot and aren’t constrained by the idea of “this doesn’t apply to my job” will come out on top. The ability to adapt as new technology emerges will help you continue adding value throughout your entire career.

Data-Driven Mindset

We are beyond the days of “I just feel like this is the right decision.” Businesses have a low threshold for decision making based on feelings when there are trillions of datapoints that can be leveraged to support a certain path forward. When proposing any idea or solution, those who can support it with relevant datapoints will provide the most value to organizations.

Since the world is changing so quickly, a data-driven mindset is more important now than ever. Industries can no longer rely on making decisions based on strategies that have worked well over the past two, five, or 20 years. Industries need employees who can synthesize data and derive insights for strategic decision making or else risk getting left behind.


Reliability is a quality that I used to think was just a given. If you are assigned a task, you’d get the task done by the due date. Not everyone operates this way, though, and therefore reliability is a high-value skillset that will set you apart in this new era.

The emergence of remote work and dispersed teams has made being reliable even more of a high-value skill. You don’t bump into colleagues or your team at the water cooler to get a quick update on a project status. Instead, you must remember to check in and hope that the work is getting completed on time.

When you establish yourself as a reliable employee, you gain the trust of the leaders in your organization and get assigned the higher-profile projects because people know you will get the job done.


I wrote an entire article on how approachability is an undervalued leadership skill, and it continues to grow in importance as the professional world changes.

The key is that you always want to be a person who others want to work with. You want people to approach you when there are issues or when they have an idea of how things can be accomplished more efficiently.

Leaders are individuals who people want to follow. Being approachable is a high-value skill that will propel you into leadership roles because you’ve positioned yourself as someone who can be successful in that role.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not a new highly sought after skill, but it continues to grow in importance as we enter a new era of work. The workplace is no longer stuffy, formal or cold. An organization’s culture is extremely important for ensuring a collaborative environment, and if you have a strong ability to be emotionally intelligent, you can create the culture organizational leaders are striving to accomplish.

Under the umbrella of emotional intelligence, you’re able to read situations and know how to be empathetic. Everyone, even your clients, are people, and you need to understand how to build strong relationships and be someone others want to work with.

Those with emotional intelligence can read these situations and bring the other necessary high-value skills to the workforce in 20243 and beyond.

The world has been disrupted with technologies like generative AI and big data, and this has also caused disruption in the high-value skills that organizations seek.

In 2024, it’s not enough to have strong traditional “soft skills,” such as communication and technical writing. We must align our skillsets with a new era of work by being adaptable, data-driven, reliable, approachable, and emotionally intelligent.


Paige Kassalen

Paige Kassalen has an electrical engineering degree from Virginia Tech and a Master of Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon. Kassalen began her career as the only American engineer working with Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. This role landed Kassalen a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list along with feature articles in Glamour, Teen Vogue, and Fast Company. Since Solar Impulse, Kassalen worked in the manufacturing and finance industries to create implementation strategies for a range of emerging technology trends from autonomous vehicles to machine learning. She was the Chief Operating Officer at CrowdAI, a start-up named by Forbes as one of the most promising AI companies in 2021. CrowdAI was acquired by Saab, Inc. in 2023, and Kassalen now serves as the Chief of Staff for the strategy division.

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