The nature of work is evolving. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are spurring a revolution, transforming jobs in every industry from IT to manufacturing.
The latest OECD Employment Outlook report reports that around 36% of Australian jobs face a significant or high risk of being automated in the next 15 to 20 years. If this number is worrying, you’re not alone. Half of all Aussie employees are concerned about their job will be replaced by technology at some point down the line.
However, automation isn’t going to eliminate jobs but rather, transform them. While some skills can be automated — such as mundane and repetitive tasks like data entry — interpersonal skills simply can’t be replaced.
Here are six skills that can never been replaced by automation.
What interpersonal skills can’t be automated?
While Siri is great at giving you directions to the nearest cafe, even with the most advanced learning, she’ll never truly understand how you feel. Technology will never be able to comprehend our emotions and respond in the way that a human can. Whether it’s a team leader helping employees through a difficult time, account managers working with clients or hiring managers looking for the perfect candidate, empathy is an example of interpersonal skills that won’t be outsourced to robots any time soon.
2. Content creation
Content fuels the digital world. While automation can create simple content, it’s never going to be able to tell a brand story effectively or create business reports with clear outcomes and insights, particularly without a full knowledge of human context. Because of this, there will always be a position for people with content creation skills in the workforce.
3. Tech management
Robots can’t (and shouldn’t) be managing robots. Humans will always need to be there to design, plan, install and maintain any digital systems. Rather than fearing technology, it’s essential to become comfortable in understanding its purpose and using it, as this will be a highly in-demand skill in the future.
Like empathy, communication skills can’t be automated because each scenario is different. Effective communication is an art: it considers the situation, the values and objectives of stakeholders, historical context and business objectives. While technology may be inching closer to recognising facial expressions, it will never communicate as effectively as a human can.
Automation can remove the legwork of implementing tasks but it’s a long way off from being able to provide an overarching strategy that gives each task relevance in the grand scheme of things. Regardless of which industry or field you’re in, strategic thinking is a skill that will always be performed by humans.
Experts haven’t even managed to pinpoint exactly why some humans are more creative than others. So, it’s safe to say it’s near impossible for computers to replicate the spark of creativity that have led to the world’s most amazing business feats.
The reason is simple: automation and AI is programmed, even when it’s using machine learning. Creativity, on the other hand, is spontaneous and requires imagination, dreaming and collective inspiration.
Tips to future-proof your career
While interpersonal skills will never be automated, it doesn’t mean technology won’t affect your career in some way (if it hasn’t already). These tips will help equip you for the future of work:
- Give your interpersonal skills meaning in your resume. Highlight these through a skills-based resume or through a dedicated section on your resume. Include concrete interpersonal skills examples and outcomes for each, in order to demonstrate the value of these skills to your future employer.
- Focus on understanding and using technology. Automation is coming, so don’t fight the change! Instead, embrace new technology in your workplace and keep up-to-date with the latest trends. By doing this, you can better understand how to use them to increase productivity or improve processes.
- Build your personal development plan with these skills in mind. By including technical and interpersonal skills in your career development trajectory, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the change in the future.
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