Automation and artificial intelligence will result in a greater proportion of jobs relying on soft skills but their importance is often undervalued in the workplace.
Most employees believe they have adequate soft skills to perform in their current role. But, in fact, demand for soft skills already exceeds supply by up to 45 per cent. A study by Deloitte estimates that two-thirds of all jobs by 2030 will depend on soft skills.
The latest soft skills requested by some of Kurrant’s clients include cognitive flexibility, business empathy, perspective-taking or focus and self-control, which is sometime seen as missing among millennials.
These abilities generally won’t be offloaded to artificial intelligence (AI) any time soon. They can be transferred from one workplace to another and make it easier for people to adapt to changing work roles or a different corporate culture. In reality, the more competitive, technological and customer demanding your Industry becomes, the more soft skills become important to your company and personal success. Automation and AI will result in a greater proportion of jobs relying on soft skills.
Unlike hard skills that are learned, soft skills are similar to emotions or insights and allow people to interact intelligently with others. You don’t learn them in a typical classroom setting and they are much tougher to evaluate and measure. Some of our clients would invite candidates to a group dinner, after the set of interviews, and evaluate their ability to interact socially, lead conversations or share their values and opinions in a casual setting. One way of measuring soft skills in the current era would be to ask the candidate complex questions and gauge their ability to make themselves understood via a Slack written format.
The latest soft skills requested by some of Kurrant’s clients include cognitive flexibility, business empathy, perspective-taking or focus and self-control
Think about it from a business prospective: if we look at our smart city and Internet of Things (IoT) sector, how important is it that you truly understand and address your city customer’s pain points or fears around data collection, security, citizen complaints and so on and so forth? Beyond your technical response, if you want to make an impact you at least need to possess skills such as empathetic listening, critical thinking and great communication skills.
The problem is that the importance of these soft skills is often undervalued because a lot of companies seem to expect employees to know how to behave on the job. They tend to assume that everyone knows and understands the importance of taking initiative, sharing information, asking and giving feedback, being a team player and producing high-quality work. There is a general misconception that employees naturally pick up soft skills. In fact, this is not the case. In essence, calling them “soft” subtly diminishes their importance.
It takes conscious effort, ongoing practice, and a commitment to self-development to improve your soft skills. There are a number of ways to develop or enhance these skills once you feel a need for improvement in some of these areas.
Nadia Chen is talent engagement director at Kurrant Talent
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