Technology moves fast, and makes our life easier at work by making mundane tasks more efficient.
Well, it’s not stopping anytime soon and technological advances like the use of AI and machine learning will have an immense impact on the future of jobs and careers.
As many as 70 million jobs in the US could be impacted by automation by 2030, according to a report by McKinsey & Company. Not all predictions are negative; Gartner reported that artificial intelligence will more than likely create 500,000 more jobs than it eliminates by year 2020.
Nonetheless, this automation movement also represents a radical shift, which can cause some anxiety as we ponder the future of the workplace.
Fear not, in this article I will show you three invaluable skills you can learn and develop to adapt and future proof your employment over the next decade of technological change.
Now, let’s start with this truth: AI will make us more efficient, but the workplace will still value the invaluable human touch. In fact, according to a recent study from Adobe, 70 percent of US office workers believe that in person or face-to-face contact is required to do their jobs well.
Around 80 percent believe that the successful workers of the future will thrive with the collaboration between AI and an essential human touch.
We all have the opportunity to continue improving how we craft our uniquely human skill-sets that the machines will not demonstrate or replicate.
Whether you are a student still in school, making your way through a degree, or have decades of experience in an office environment, here are three areas you should concentrate on developing in order to remain and continue to be relevant in an emerging AI workplace and world:
When we have discussions about uniquely human skill sets, emotional quotient or EQ, which is also known as emotional intelligence, is the most important factor.
Influential Harvard theorist, Howard Gardner, defines EQ as the level of your ability to understand other people, what actually motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.
More than ever before, EQ is now being recognized as equally or even more valuable than IQ for long-term success. Humans ultimately want to interact — they do not want to listen or follow a machine, literally or figuratively.
Across many industries and corporations, we need employees with a high EQ at all levels within organizations.
Here are 4 things that a person can do to improve their emotional intelligence (people skills):
- Develop an understanding of your own emotions (self awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.) Here is useful EQ quiz to take or try keeping a daily journal of your thoughts.
- Learn how to manage and regulate your emotions (making decisons based on reason not feelings.) The ability to stay calm in stressful work situtions is a highly valued skill. Practice deep-breathing exercises to calm yourself.
- Learn how to develop empathy for what other coworkers are feeling (reading people’s body language can be useful.)
- Developing interpersonal or social skills are important for leadership positions and moving agendas along in team project environments (learning conflict resolution skills are vital if you want to succeed.)
Recalculating problems and opportunities, finding new approaches and taking initiatives are important attributes of creative problem-solving. Unlike tech trends (think Google Glass) that come and go, problem-solving skills are always going to be essential and relevant.
Recently, Adobe surveyed over 2,000 educators and education policy makers in the US, Germany, UK, as well as Japan, and determined that 86 percent of survey-participants said they believe students who excel at problem-solving will have more opportunities for higher-earning jobs in the near future.
Seventy-five percent forecasted that professions requiring creative problem-solving are less likely to be impacted or displaced by automation.
Beyond problem-solving, creativity itself is another uniquely human characteristic that will continue to benefit job seekers in the short and long-term.
There are certain critical thinking or problem solving skills that humans can develop to have an advantage over machines. In circumstances when problems span multiply industries or when the problem is not fully defined or is nuanced, people can work backwards to figure out a solution. An example, could be when a lawyer can
pinpoint the exact positioning argument to make a case for a client, or when a marketer creates an overarching message that can resonate with consumers.
Flexibility and curiosity
With the speed of changes in the workplace, employees who continue to challenge themselves to learn new techniques and skills, and those who continue to push the leading edge of their expertise, solidify and maintain a competitive advantage.
These types of individuals are open to breaking out of their comfort zones and thinking “outside of the box.” Having a curious and flexible mindset has always been important, but in the age of AI those characteristics are exponentially more critical.
As a businesses continue to experiment with the benefits of AI, employees need to to be on a constant quest to deliver a higher level of value.
What can you do? Investigate! Speak and become friends with colleagues in different departments of your business. Be curious! Talk to senior managers, as well as your own peers.
Think critically about the individuals you are surrounded by, their talent, skills and approach, think about your own and then connect it to the organization’s short term/long term vision and strategy.
As an example there have been several articles about how Google actually encourages its employees to gain new skills, learn from one another, and build their networks. Google employees will reach out to coworkers from other teams to get advice, learn, and ask for help.
The continued rise in automation and AI reveal a rich mosaic of potential changes in occupations in the years ahead, with important implications for workforce skills and wages.
The creation of many new opportunities may also occur. While some of the best jobs of the future simply do not even exist yet, (50 years ago, the idea that social media marketing would be a job wasn’t obvious) the need for distinctively human skills associated with such jobs will remain vital. In essence, there WILL be job growth and stability for years to come — despite automation.
Automation will have a lesser effect on jobs that involve managing people, applying expertise, and social interactions, where machines are currently unable to match human performance.
Ongoing learning and education, exposure to different cultures, developing and maintaining a diverse network of peers, and proactively seeking out feedback will allow workers to hone their exceptional human skills that no machine can match or beat.
Regardless of how AI may or may not impact the workplace, demonstrating intelligence, empathy, creativity, intellectual curiosity, higher cognitive skills, and emotional skills such as negotiation, leadership, management, advanced communications, along with the ability to adapt will serve you well for building a long term prosperous career and business.