The artificial intelligence (AI) age is upon us. AI is spreading throughout the business world, automating simple tasks once performed by humans and revolutionising business processes. It’s undeniably going to change the world of work as we know it, but it won’t have the dire effect some naysayers fear. Here’s why.

The impact AI will have on jobs is definitely a hot topic. Some commentators subscribe to the ‘tech is going to replace humans’ school of thought, believing that AI will trigger a tsunami of mass redundancies throughout the workforce

But, I subscribe to the second school of thought. In that, AI is indeed a powerful tool, but a tool nonetheless and, in order to get the most value from the technology, it still needs a decision maker (a human) to drive that tool.

AI and automation are increasingly taking away the mundane, automatic and process-oriented tasks that humans were once responsible for, clearing a path for workers to be more strategic, do smarter work and devote more time to improving the customer experience.

This reality brings with it a whole raft of new jobs – jobs where our soft skills are paramount. The one area where robots fall down is what makes us uniquely human. AI can’t replicate emotional intelligence, intuition, empathy and creativity – these soft skills will continue to remain the realm of humans, and is the reason why AI will never replace the human touch.  

Putting your best foot forward in an AI world

What this means for future career prospects is that to give yourself the best opportunity to prosper you need to be constantly honing your soft skills. Because that skillset, combined with technology, will be a powerful combo in our new technology-fuelled world.

Of course, the actual type of soft skills you need will be dependent on the environment or organisation you are working in. But the key skills you want to have are the ability to deal with multiple stakeholders, communicate effectively and adapt to change easily.

Being able to communicate well, form relationships and network effectively are going to be critical to your future career prospects. It’s important you’re actively developing these skills, which means putting yourself out there on an individual level, getting involved in ‘stretch’ assignments and having as much exposure to different levels of the business as possible.

Often people talk about getting involved and furthering their learning by doing courses and education. But the functional and soft skills you learn by interacting with your peers can be just as important as the technical things you build and skills you learn. So if you want to strengthen your soft skills, it’s vital you put yourself in positions that maximise opportunities to have as much peer interaction as possible.

I have a saying I like to use, “Technology makes us competitive, being human makes us unique”, and I truly believe that’s the case. We need the stellar soft skills that only humans have to make the most of the opportunities technology offers us – and to make the most of the opportunities ahead of you, you need to be attuned to them.

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