The global workforce is in the midst of a widespread workplace shift. Artificial intelligence and widening skills gaps are dramatically reimagining the landscape of the way we work. In fact, a recent report estimates 50 percent of today’s jobs are vulnerable to artificial intelligence that currently exists.
And in the American workforce specifically, skills gaps can range from a workforce newcomer with little or no on-the-job experience to an established employee whose formal education and training haven’t kept pace with demanding industry changes and professional ecosystem evolutions.
As such, the growing fear is that as technology becomes more sophisticated and advanced, tasks will become more automated, and the demand for certain skills will once again shift, threatening to render existing human skills redundant.
But there is one set of skills that hiring managers seek more than others and – at least for the foreseeable future – aren’t vulnerable to technological advancements: soft skills.
More than 2.1 million jobs will be created as part of a changing workforce as skills we consider to be intrinsically human – sociability, empathy, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, adaptability and a willingness to learn – will hold even more value.
Despite the rise of automation, soft skills are still at the top of employers’ wish lists as the workplace shift fuels the demand for strong communicators, problem solvers, team players, and adaptable leaders. In fact, ‘training for soft skills’ was identified as the No. 1 priority for a group of 4,000 professionals surveyed in LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report.
And according to PwC’s Workforce of The Future: The competing forces shaping 2030 report, 73 percent of participants in the study believe that technology can never replace the human mind.
Further, new roles will likely also be needed to bridge the gap between technologies that were once distinct and separate, such as information and operations technology, as they continue to converge.
There are three sectors that research shows will be hit hardest by the oncoming talent deficit, so much so that it’s been estimated that by 2030 …
… Financial and business services will be 10.7 million workers short
… Technology, media, and telecommunications will fall short 4.3 million workers
… Manufacturing will face a 7.9 million people deficit
In fact, a recent survey reported that 84 percent of U.S. respondents saw a skills gap, a rise of 6 percent from the prior year and up from nearly 60 percent in 2014. And by 2022, it’s estimated that nearly 30 percent of global IT jobs will remain open.
The one common denominator in those massive deficits? People, not technology, will determine the future of these industries, presenting a unique challenge to hiring managers.
According to recent research, almost 40 percent of American employers say they struggle to find people with the skills they need, even for entry-level jobs. Further, almost 60 percent struggle with a workforce that is wholly unprepared, even for entry-level jobs.
Some of the country’s fastest-growing roles, such as sales development and customer service roles, are largely soft skills-dependent and in the U.S. alone, there exists a deficit of 1.4 million professionals with the necessary soft skills, with communication being the No. 1 skill in demand.
But where one employer may see a challenge, others who recognize the value of leveraging technology see the skills gap as an opportunity: a pool of untapped talent that can be molded and trained with the specificity needed to also narrow the risk gap.
So how, exactly, can technology weave workforce straw into gold?
It would seem, to the uninitiated at least, that the very thing that has disrupted the workplace – technology – wouldn’t hold the answer for how the human mind can continue to compete in an increasingly digital workforce.
But surprisingly, the very thing threatening to turn the workforce upside down is the same thing that can boost those skills that cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence.
According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials consider “professional or career growth and development opportunities” important when choosing a job. Because when every innovation and technological advancement renders the half-life of their skills shorter and shorter, microlearning allows focus to shift to cultivating and accelerating learning so that new skills can be more rapidly acquired and, as such, careers can be developed and advanced accordingly.
Through the approach of the 70-20-10 rule, the concept of lifelong learning for career growth and development comes by way of three types of experience: 70 percent experiential, on-the-job learning, 20 percent social learning, and 10 percent formal learning through training.
Microlearning empowers employees to continuously improve upon existing skills and acquire new skills by incorporating learning into their everyday work experience while progressing at their own pace or as needs dictate.
As technology transforms nearly everything, the global workforce will need to evolve with it, fortifying existing skills and providing upskilling in order to remain competitive – and professionals leveraging these opportunities will prove themselves most invaluable and indispensable to an ever-changing workforce.