Can a Robot Think Critically and Muse Philosophically? Skills for the Future Workforce

Human Touch: the Key Skill that You need to Outlast the Machines

What is that humans can do and machines cannot? Or, what is that helps you to retain your job from automation and avoid being replaced by a robot? What are the in demand jobs in the future that makes some occupations more critical than others as far as automation and demand for human workers are concerned?

The answers to all these questions lie in the way human workers have to make them invaluable to ensure that their jobs are safe from being made redundant due to automation. Indeed, experts predict that despite the gloom and doom surrounding automation and the threat of jobs, there are some professions where demand for human workers is going to stay high.

These are the professions where the “Human Touch” is the main determinant as compared to the technical and domain skills that are usually sought after. Indeed, we have not yet reached a stage where robots can think and feel like humans, though, we are getting there, and hence, this underscores the importance of skills such as Decision Making, Problem Solving, Emotional Intelligence, Critical Thinking, and cultural and behavioral sensitivity.

Some Specific Skills for the Future Workforce

For instance, take the cultural and behavioral sensitivity that are often needed in our particularly deglobalizing and increasingly localizing world. While robots can fix vehicles and make components, as well as perform routine jobs, would they know how to handle a customer or a fellow employee based on his or her cultural sensitivities?

In other words, while robots might be adept at manufacturing and even performing surgeries, would they have the “bedside manners” or the “soothing reassurance” of an experienced surgeon who because of his or her exposure can put the patient at ease in the operating theatre?

Indeed, the emerging age of personalization has enough scope for anyone who can think and feel like humans despite the fact that robots and AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered bots can write code, make goods, and work in the customer facing front desk.

Moreover, would a robot muse philosophically about life and human nature and make decisions at critical times based on an ethical and moral compass? Thus, it is indeed the case that the liberal arts and humanities are making a comeback as far as their importance to the future jobs and workforce participation in addition to employability are concerned.

What Business Leaders, Governmental Policymakers, and Educationalists Need to Do

This has implications for all stakeholders, whether they are corporates, governmental policymakers, educationalists, activists, and individuals. While corporates have to invest in Reskilling their employees to meet the challenges of automation and job losses due to the same, governments have to invest in their education sectors to give more prominence to holistic and critical thinking abilities.

Further, educationalists likewise have to ensure that what is taught across the spectrum of Kindergarten to Post Graduation (or KG to PG) reflects the needs of future workers instead of focusing narrowly on technical and domain skills.

In addition, business leaders who are increasingly becoming local in their approach have to insist that their employees are culturally sensitive and can work in settings where the hyperlocal demands of the job would require advanced knowledge on local customs and a rich understanding of history and legacy.

While this might seem unrealistic or Utopian, let us assure you that organizational experts and business leaders worldwide and especially in the United States and Australia are pushing the views that have been discussed so far.

What the WEF (World Economic Forum) or the Organizer of Davos Recommends

Indeed, even the WEF (World Economic Forum) that organizes the annual Davos retreat, the gathering of the “movers and shakers” of the global economy has come out with suggestions and recommendations on preparing the workforce of the future in tune with the times. For instance, critical thinking and emotional intelligence are the skills that would stand the test of time as far as the workforce requirements of the future are concerned.

The Reskilling the Workforce Report recently published by the WEF makes the case for employers to train their existing employees on the skills mentioned so far including superlative communication abilities and the need for them to have superior systems thinking abilities.

The same report also mentions how technical and domain skills can be learned over the years by working in the same industry, some skills such as gender and racial sensitivity as well as the ability to balance competing agendas and interests that are required from decision makers need organizational backing for actualization.

Indeed, given the hyper polarized world that we live in, the future workforce has to ensure that they do not give in to the negativity and maintain empathy and relate emotionally to their coworkers. Thus, EQ or Emotional Quotient is as important as IQ or Intelligence Quotient.

What You, as an Aspiring or Working Professional Needs to Do

As an aspiring or working professional, you can prepare for the future by focusing on a combination of domain and so-called soft skills that would ensure that you are not left behind or your job is made redundant due to automation.

As the title of this article says, the differentiator for the jobs of the future lies in the way we can augment technology instead of being blindsided by it. Of course, one can always argue that Alexa or Siri can think like humans and with the exponentially accelerating technological changes, who knows what robots might become in the future. However, according to many experts, it is better to invest in skills discussed here rather than give in to what is now being touted as inevitable.

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