Developing skills for the future that won’t be automated

We have been talking for years about automation and the impact that it will have on our lives, our jobs and the industries that we work within, both now and in the future. Have you ever stopped to think about what you are currently doing and wondered if it could be automated or what skills and experience you are developing that won’t be automated in the future? The truth is that it is happening! It blows my kids’ minds to think that we didn’t have internet until my final year of university and that we had to go to a library and use actual books to do research, or that when I was a child I didn’t have an iPad or a Nintendo Switch and what did we do all day, how did we survive?

The reality is that automation, digitalisation and technology are all advancing at incredible speed. Many experts agree that COVID has sped up the digitalisation process. So what is the key to staying relevant and employable? Continuously updating and expanding your skillset and experience to suit the future of work. You will need to be flexible, adaptable, motivated and willing to upskill and continuously learn and adjust to different work environments. There are so many studies and reports that have been done that study the impact of automation, digitalisation and technology into our processes and our lives. McKinsey estimates that half of all jobs will be automated in the next decade. In my opinion, some elements of all jobs will become automated, specifically the more repetitive and routine tasks in our roles.

What will make the difference is being human or what is commonly referred to as “soft skills” These are the skills that are hardest to understand, qualify and measure but they are critical in any work environment. When we think about recruitment, technology can search through a database of candidates and find a chartered accountant with 3 years post qualification, experience auditing hedge funds with a Big 4 practice and living within 10 miles of Dublin. What a system cannot do is to match that candidate’s personality with the culture of the organisation. It cannot manage a counter-offer process or help and support a candidate through the resignation and onboarding process. This is where we need our human skills – our influencing, control, advice, understanding and empathy skills.

Our emotion sets us apart, it is involved in all non-verbal communication, empathy and resilience. Our emotion plays a role in knowing how and what to prioritise and helps with our emotional reasoning and decision-making process.

Therefore, whilst education and technical skills undoubtedly will continue to lay the foundation for a successful career, you will also need to compliment these skills with strong emotional intelligence, emotional reasoning, creativity and critical thinking skills. Potential employers will consider attitudes and aptitudes to be critical as well as resilience (the ability to cope with setbacks and criticism, be motivated to overcome obstacles and stay calm under pressure).

According to the World Economic Forum, the 2022 Skills Outlook identifies the following critical skills:

  1. Analytical Thinking and Innovation
  2. Active Learning and Learning Strategies
  3. Creativity, Originality and Initiative
  4. Technology Design and Programming
  5. Critical Thinking and Analysis
  6. Complex Problem Solving
  7. Leadership and Social Influence
  8. Emotional Intelligence
  9. Reasoning, Problem-Solving and Ideation
  10. Systems Analysis and Evaluation

According to Stephen M. Kosslyn, “Our ability to manage and utilise emotion and to take account the effects of context are key ingredients of critical thinking, creative problem solving, effective communication, adaptive learning and good judgement. It has proven very difficult to program machines to emulate such human knowledge and skills, and it is not clear when (or whether) today’s fledgling efforts to do so will bear fruit.”

To learn more about how to develop and improve these critical skills that won’t be automated in the future, contact us today: