"Soft Skills", the new talk of the town

With time we have always found new ways to "automate" muscle power and when we now have entered a new age of intelligence we have also begun to automate thinking with the current rise of smart devices such as AI (artificial intelligence). Though critics sound the alarm concerning jobs being lost, many are hopeful and especially us at Ework. We have long known that AI and robots will change both workplaces and markets across the world, what’s exciting is the fact that we’re living in that time, where we get to see it happen first hand.

We differ from robots because of our ability to influence on emotional levels

Different markets are experiencing the growth of smart devices, where most are working to adapt and adjust to what is both jaw-dropping and scary. Many of us, especially the younger generations are constantly looking to streamline daily life. Especially when it comes to dealing with boring everyday chores but also when it comes to critical things. So, the scary part, in a broad sense, is the actual question mark of what the future will bring. Will the future bring AI-tools and robots that take away our boring chores or will they take our jobs? Is it even more frightening then to ask ourselves how we compete with that? What kind of new “properties” will humans have to acquire to differentiate ourselves from the robots? How do we secure our pertinence and our ability to add value to different markets across the world and various societies?

For now, at least, the answer is simple. Digital trend spotting, and experts say that we will add value, and differ from robots because of our ability to influence on emotional levels. Our emotions and warmth are what distinguish us from artificial intelligence. Human qualities such as intuition, empathy and compassion will be even more important in the future, along with “soft skills” such as active listening.

"Soft skills" make us relevant in the future 

Machine learning has truly taken a leap and promises lots of upcoming applications in working life to cover so-called Big data problems where the human brain is not enough. From this perspective AI can be viewed as a powerful tool rather than something that will replace us at work. Though repetitive roles are and will be further automated, smart devices and developed technology will open for the creation of new services and jobs. Therefore, broadly put, different skills will be needed and demanded in the future for us to still be relevant.

Because being relevant might be what it will all be about, foremost to have relevant skills. Soft skills are the personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed to succeed in the future working place. These skills characterize how a person interacts with others and include attitude, creative thinking, work ethics, team player abilities, networking, decision making, positive thinking, time management and much more.

The future will be all about "Soft skills" and lifelong learning.

Through "soft skills" humans will retain competitiveness. We have gone from an extreme focus on intelligence quotient (IQ) to emotional intelligence (EQ) which has led to a now greater demand and appreciation for collaboration and communicative skills. The future of work welcome those prepared to learn throughout their whole professional life. To future proof, we will all be a part of a lifelong learning process where it’s vital we show social responsiveness and social intelligence as well as the capability to assist and care for others.

Among "hard skills", programming will still be a future-proof-skill. The ability to write computer programs to solve various tasks is of course something where there will be an increased demand for in the age of a continuous tech development. However, pattern-driven professions with repetitive work steps are the first to be automated when AI and robots become more sophisticated. An example of jobs that will go first will be telemarketers, machine operators and cash registers. Therefore, soft skills will become more important, something everyone will learn how to develop over a lifetime since it’s difficult to program a computer to replicate emotions in a good way.

To the critics worrying over job losses, we recommend switching focus. Soft skills are not the talk of the town for no reason. Focus on the capabilities that AI cannot handle such as understanding, motivation and interaction with other people. If you’re in a leadership role today and want to be relevant in the future, prepare yourself and be creative in identifying where qualities such as empathy and social skills will become the differentiating factors when competing with AI in the labor market.

Agrawal, A., J. Gans, A. Goldfarb (2018), Economic Policy for Artificial Intelligence, NBER Working Paper No.
Tredinnick, L. (2017). Artificial intelligence and professional roles. Business Information Review, 34(1), 37–41.