Over the next decade, workers will no longer be hired for a defined set of skills. Advances in big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation mean that hard skills are becoming obsolete at a rate of four per cent per year. In little over a decade, even a highly qualified employee may find that half their initial skillset has become irrelevant.
“There will always be a place for technical expertise,” says Marianne Hewlett, a member of the Atos Scientific Community focusing on the future of work and the impact of technology on individuals, organizations and society. “But in a business environment that increasingly values innovation, flexibility and leanness, there will be a greater emphasis on soft skills.”
AI and automation will go hand in hand with the development of soft skills. “A virtual assistant can be trained to analyze data,” says Hewlett, “but soft skills are essential to determine the context and be creative with the output.
That requires critical thinking – the ability to assess, persuade and plan. Judgment is often thought of as a skill that requires life experience, but young people can be great judges because they don’t suffer from the biases that develop with age.”
The most in-demand employees of the future will be self-starters and self-managers: “It will no longer be a company’s responsibility, for example, to make sure you update your skills,” Hewlett explains. “A commitment to lifetime learning will become an integral part of a worker’s self-development, accompanied by a growth mindset which values adaptability and teamwork.”
For the Millennial generation that has grown up in a connected world, a key skill will be to recognize the need for a balance between ‘always on’ and switching off. “The employee of the future will of course be technologically literate and comfortable in a technologically sophisticated world,” says Hewlett. “But they will also appreciate what being human is all about and have the social skills to interact meaningfully with other people.”