In a time of fast-paced technological growth, especially with the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, our workplaces are changing faster than ever.
Machines now perform tasks we once viewed as uniquely human, from coding and analysing data to assisting customers, manufacturing goods, forecasting finances, and even producing content.
So, which skills should we prioritise for the future?
Opinions vary on which skills will be most sought-after in the evolving work landscape.
In a recent report by PWC called "Workforce of the Future - The competing forces shaping 2030", there is a powerful message to leaders to protect people, not jobs: "Organisations cannot protect jobs which are made redundant by technology - but they do have a responsibility to their people. Protect people, not jobs. Nurture agility, adaptability, and re-skilling."
While AI and automation will handle a lot of technical and repetitive tasks, our distinctly human ability to think critically, empathise, create, and communicate will likely become even more valuable in the future.
These capabilities fall under what was traditionally termed "soft skills", but are now frequently called "power skills".
In a world where AI and automation prevail, "power skills" would become crucial because they represent uniquely human attributes that machines cannot easily replicate.
So, what are "power skills"?
"Power skills", also known as "soft skills", refer to non-technical competencies vital for success in both our personal and professional lives.
As the significance of these skills grows, the shift in terminology to "power skills" better captures their profound impact.
"Power skills" encompass critical thinking, effective communication, emotional intelligence (EQ), interpersonal relationship management, and adaptability, among others.
These are all attributes that machines cannot replicate easily, and therefore, they will likely become very valuable in an AI-driven world.
To stay ahead in our careers and foster growth on both personal and professional fronts, it would be essential to invest now in consistently enhancing our "power skills".
Consider critical thinking.
Critical thinking enables us to analyse situations logically, assess information, and arrive at informed conclusions. This skill is enhanced by our life experiences, our intuition, the way we handle complex problems, and our adaptability during change.
While AI can analyse vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and even make decisions based on predefined criteria, it does not possess the cognitive processes, emotions, self-awareness, or intuitive reasoning that we use in critical thinking.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is another valuable "power skill". It encompasses traits such as self-awareness, empathy, self-regulation, and motivation.
These human-centric capabilities enable us to perceive and interpret our own emotions as well as those of others – a challenge which is very difficult, if not impossible, for machines to replicate.
Building and sustaining relationships, guiding individuals or teams, and understanding diverse cultures are also essential skills for the future of work.
In addition, as the workplace continually transforms, adaptability, a critical power skill that allows us to adapt to changes, emerges as a key competency in an automated world.
"Power skills" will likely become crucial in a future driven by AI.
As we march towards an AI-heavy world, it would be a mistake to believe that only technical skills, also known as "hard skills", will determine success.
"Power skills" – the unique human traits that machines cannot readily mimic – will likely set individuals apart in an automated landscape.
Empathy, creative problem solving, and team dynamics are realms where machines fall short, and power skills reign supreme.
Moreover, as roles evolve and industries undergo transformations, adaptability and a growth mindset, both elements of power skills, would become essential for professionals to navigate the tides of change.
When it comes to critical thinking and complex problem solving, AI can provide data-driven insights, but professionals, equipped with power skills, are needed to weave these insights into strategic decisions, understanding the broader implications.
Last but not least, in a world of digital interfaces, genuine human connection, fueled by emotional intelligence and effective communication, would become invaluable in building trust and collaboration.
In summary, the abilities and qualities that machines can't easily replicate would likely make a difference in an automated world.
How about ethics and fairness in an AI-dominated world?
This is an interesting aspect to explore, and potentially a very important one.
I believe work ethic to be a "power skill" that employers value in their employees, just as employees appreciate it in their employers.
In fact, many professionals today often prioritise workplace culture and ethics when choosing an employer.
Workplace ethics, which refer to the moral principles and standards that guide behaviour, actions, and decisions in the workplace, help determine what is right and wrong in an organisational context, ensuring that businesses operate with integrity, honesty, and fairness.
Employees with strong professional ethics are often sought-after by organisations because of their honesty, transparency, loyalty, and respectful behaviour.
When it comes to ethics, we should highlight that our concept of ethics and fairness arises from a combination of innate feelings, societal norms, personal experiences, religious beliefs, and philosophical constructs. We are able to understand the subtleties and emotional weight of ethical decisions.
AI models, however, operate differently. They are based on patterns, rules, and data.
That is, they operate based on their programming and the data they are trained on. If they make "ethical" decisions, it is because they have been programmed to follow certain rules, not because they have a genuine understanding of right and wrong.
Elon Musk, who helped to co-found OpenAI back in 2015, and left the start-up company back in 2018, has consistently been an advocate of the prudent application of AI, emphasising the importance of safety and ethical guidelines.
Considering Elon Musk's advocacy for responsible AI usage, we will have a paramount role in the future of ethics and fairness at work.
After all, it should be our responsibility to define what is acceptable and what is not.
To conclude, the rise of AI and automation may be transforming the landscape around us, but it also magnifies the importance of our "power skills."
I believe that as machines compute, code, and curate, it is our ability to empathise, create, communicate, and adapt that marks a domain that technology cannot easily infiltrate.
Indeed, the future of work may be painted with digital strokes, but it is our human touch, our "power skills", that will bring the masterpiece to life.
Are you interested in learning more, and embarking on a journey to continuously improve your "power skills"? Contact us today for an introductory call.