The future of workforce is machine, as the growing automation of industries and use of artificial intelligence (AI) clearly shows us. Which is why the humans have to rely heavily on developing social skills, trust and empathy among workers, experts say.
Skills such as empathy, creativity, team work, negotiation and communication are going to be far more important in the future, when machines are able to do the work that we spend hours doing today.
Australia’s Macquarie University organized a panel discussion where the industry experts talked about the implications for the global workforce with continuous technological disruptions changing the nature of work.
Juliet Bourke of Deloitte Australia highlighted that over time, jobs have shifted from farms to factories, and then to offices. They are now shifting to digital ‘cloud’ whose credit goes to smart technologies and computing systems like artificial intelligence and blockchain.
“Naturally, due to the increasing pace of technology, there is lot of ‘noise’ about learning technical skills to equip ourselves in the ever-changing work environment,” she said.
However, she emphasized that the need of the hour is to invest in developing our social skills, because technology cannot replace the ‘human factor’.
“We don’t spend a lot of time developing our soft skills – in school or at work. Studies have shown that soft skill training can increase productivity,” Bourke said.
“Education matters more than ever today. However, university education has not changed much over the last twenty years,” said Leoni Tickle, Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching at Macquarie University.
“Unlike academic degrees, no formal credentials exist for evaluating soft skills, despite the growth of service sector and the increased requirements for the workforce to excel in communication, negotiations and team work”, Tickle pointed out.
“Our education system, in fact, goes out of the way to kill our creativity — one of the most important soft skills required at work,” added Gaurav Kanwal, head, digital media GTM and sales, Adobe Systems.
The nature of work is shifting and hence the Panelists stressed on the need to adapt to ensure that we do not get left behind in the future.
“We cannot stop technology from being developed and disrupting the workspace, but we can align ourselves to the ongoing change,” Kanwal said.
“In the current scenario, where the nature of jobs can change in every 10 years, the onus of upskilling workers lies both with the education system as well as the employing industry”, said Yvonne Breyer, programme director (design and experience) of Global MBA, a first-its-kind online degree that will be offered on learning website Coursera.
Online degrees and courses offer an opportunity for everyone — from freshers to mid-career professionals— to update their skills on a regular basis, Breyer said.