Talent Management

Developing Soft Skills in the age of AI

20min 12 Jun 2020

The increasingly rapid advancement of technology is one of the defining issues of our time. New innovations, like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), are having an ever-greater impact on our societies.

As artificial intelligence grows more sophisticated, it has become an important part of the global economy — according to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Survey, the number of businesses using AI grew 270 percent in the past four years and tripled in the past year.

However, to leverage AI to its full potential, humans must change the way we view the world. In order to work productively alongside AI, it is more important than ever for us to develop our soft skills, such as creativity, complex problem-solving, and management abilities.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

First, we will examine the effect that artificial intelligence has had on the modern world.

There is no question that the rise of artificial intelligence is one of the defining features of today’s workplace. Technologies such as chatbots have radically altered the way that companies interact with their customers. And because of AI’s ability to recognise patterns, it has been used in everything from fraud monitoring systems to healthcare research.

While AI offers countless opportunities to improve our lives, it also presents certain challenges. As machines take over an increasing number of tasks, the nature of work and jobs is bound to change. While many routine functions will become obsolete, intuition, emotional intelligence and other ‘non-quantifiable’ skills will become increasingly important.

Developing Soft Skills: an essential in a digitising world

Then, we will take a closer look at what exactly soft skills are. We’ll also learn why they are so crucial, and how they will become even more significant in the years to come.

Soft skills are a key part of human intelligence which cannot be easily replicated by AI. These skills are already highly valued by employers—a study by West Monroe Partners revealed that 98 percent of HR leaders thought that soft skills were important for candidates looking for a technology job, and 67 percent reported having withheld a position from a candidate who could not demonstrate such skills.

However, many candidates are not entering the workplace prepared with soft skills. A 2018 Bloomberg study showed that over one-third of corporations felt that new hires lacked the soft skills they needed to perform well in their job. In addition, there is a gap between organisations’ desire for soft skills, and their ability to support developing soft skills in their current employees. In the aforementioned study, 40 percent of employers admitted that they did not provide employees with soft-skills training.

Strengthening Soft Skills and Collaboration

Finally, we will examine some of the challenges that companies currently face in identifying soft skills. We will also present a plan to help developing soft skills and and create appropriate training for employees in the future.

While managers may be able to easily identify soft skills in members of their own team, inefficiencies can arise in large organisations with many different team members. New opportunities may exist for collaboration across the organisation, in ways that may not be immediately apparent to individual managers.

Although simple algorithms can be a useful tool to identify ‘hard skills’ through keywords or skills testing, soft skills are more difficult to understand at scale. Using machine learning, managers can gain a better understanding of the skill sets that exist throughout their company, across teams and across competencies.

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