Yes, robots are now doing jobs that used to be performed by people, but there are some roles that will always rely on the human touch and certain skills that robots just aren’t very good at. But how do you know what skills and attributes will be important in future?
A recent survey by Indeed found that only around half (53%) of young people believe their education has adequately prepared them for the world of work.
As an antidote to this, we consulted Indeed’s Senior Recruiter Lorraine Dooley and Employer Insights Specialist Jay Munro to find out which soft skills (attitudes and behaviours that translate into how we interact with others at work) are most in demand right now—and will continue to be coveted well into the future.
Resilience. Recruiters almost always ask candidates this question during interviews; ‘tell me about a time when something went wrong and how you dealt with the situation’. Regardless of the role that you’re in, nothing’s going to be ace all the time, so you need to be able to build up a level of resilience to keep soldiering on as set-backs arise. The ability to identify failures and show how you’ve learnt from them is an important skill to have (and a covetable one too).
Adaptability. With the ever-evolving workforce and the rapid rate at which technology is changing, we all need to be adaptable. Whether it be a company restructure, the introduction of a new piece of software, a change in the way performance reviews are conducted, or a switch in company strategy, being able to accept change and adapt to new circumstances and environments is key to having a successful career.
Collaboration. As computers take over repetitive, often mind-numbing tasks, it’s going to be more crucial than ever that we can work well with others in a team. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential skill that can be honed over time. Robots can’t assess social cues and know when things aren’t going right. They don’t have the ability to divide tasks, work alongside those who have different opinions and come together at the end of a project to discuss the finished product and next steps.
Empathy. This requires putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and feeling their pain, frustration, excitement, or joy. Robots can’t empathise because they don’t have the kind of shared experience that allows you to identify with another person’s situation. They are fab at being able to tell how a person is feeling by examining their facial expressions, but responding to that feeling in real time (for example by providing a hug or a handshake) is something humans are still way ahead on. Aside from being able to empathise with co-workers, empathy is critical to understanding and responding to customers’ needs. If you can’t empathise with them, you can’t help solve their problems.
Robots can’t empathise because they don’t have the kind of
Problem solving. Technology is pretty good at this (in some instances). When it comes to crunching numbers and identifying blemishes in scans, robots are often quicker and more accurate than humans working on the same problems. What they aren’t so good at is being able to respond to unexpected situations with the same resourcefulness as a person. Being able to think outside of the box is a valued skill that machines simply don’t possess.
Though, being curious isn’t just a great skill because of the ability to think of new ideas.
Curiosity. At its core, curiosity is about the excitement of wanting to know more. Curious people are always asking questions, digging deeper into topics and pondering new possibilities in their heads with each new nugget of information they’re presented with. Robots are unable to do this. Though, being curious isn’t just a great skill because of the ability to think of new ideas. It often makes people open to new connections and relationships (think networking in a room full of people you don’t know). Curious people are often proactive about learning new skills, which is a positive trait to have in a competitive workforce.
Creativity. Did you ever read the story of how AI was tasked with coming up with names for various paint colours? It did its best to compare all the data it had on similar hues and it came up with names like ‘turdly’ ‘dope’ and ‘stanky bean’. You can hardly imagine ‘turdly’ paint rushing off the shelves. Creativity isn’t a strong suit of AI and that’s because imagination and daydreaming aren’t programmable skills. AI can take existing data and make logical inferences based on parameters given to it by humans, but ask it to generate something new (like a paint colour name) and it struggles. This distinct advantage to devise original concepts isn’t going to change any time soon and careers in creative roles seem safe for the foreseeable.
Self reflection. Failing to pause and reflect on past actions can mean a failure to course correct and achieve a different outcome in the future. The ability to think deeply about your actions, abilities and motives (and how these affect others) is critical in both your work and home life.
So ultimately, whilst machines might be able to read through files quicker, sort data more efficiently, or spot tumours more accurately, humans are still very much required in the workplace! Improving your soft skills will prepare you for the world of work and will help you to future-proof yourself as a valuable and in-demand employee for years to come.