In a 2017 report, the global management consultancy McKinsey estimated that as many as numerous workers might lose their jobs because of automation. While the effects will vary by country and industry, both developed and developing countries will feel the impact.
Careers such as gardeners, plumbers and those caring for children and the elderly are less likely to be affected as “they remain challenging to automate and don’t usually earn high wages,” the McKinsey report stated. The good news is that automation is unlikely to have a great impact on jobs that involve creativity, expertise, managing people, or frequent social interactions. So, what is the best strategy for protecting your career from obsolescence?
Given all the uncertainty about the future job market, changing technologies and new business models, experts say that the best way to futureproof your career is to make sure you acquire soft skills in addition to the functional and technical requirements that include critical thinking, creativity, communications, client/customer experience and adaptability.
Here are five key soft skills that can help you differentiate yourself in a rapidly evolving job market:
Critical Thinking: The ability to think logically and critically to solve business issues is essential in safeguarding your career in a complex, ever-changing world. Companies need to be able to continuously improve products, processes and services to compete. To do this they need workers to have critical thinking skills and to be able to ask the right questions to get to the bottom of a problem. You will need to learn how to think and learn, because the only way to remain useful and relevant over an entire career of 30-40 years will be if you are able to change and adapt.
Creativity: Being able to think in new ways to solve problems that until now never existed is another essential soft skill that should be cultivated. Curiosity and imagination drive innovation are keys to problem-solving. “Out-of-the-box,” entrepreneurial thinking will be required to challenge the status quo and look for innovative ways to address the problems.
Communication: Skills such as communication, listening and public speaking have become crucial in the day-to-day leadership environment. Without effective communication, leaders are just figureheads. By focusing on interpersonal interactions, leaders can reach individuals where they are and connect. In fact, knowing how to communicate effectively is critical to navigating all professional relationships be they with your team, top leaders in the organisation or clients. International experience with multiple cultures also can help deepen communications skills and an awareness of cultural sensitivities that will facilitate operating in other countries and locations.
Customer/client mindset: In the hospitality world, it’s all about the client experience. Companies that employ graduates-even those in industries outside hospitality management frequently mention that having a strong customer focus is essential, because all businesses have customers. A strong emphasis on client service is essential in any business, and particularly those with heavy customer interfaces.
Collaboration and adaptability: The speed of the market and our workplaces, powered by the constant stream of new technology, will continue to accelerate. To respond to these demands, successful organisations promote a strong culture of collaboration and adaptability. Knowing how to work in a team for the greater good, being able to identify each team member’s strengths, knowing how to deal with frustrations, and being able to adapt to rapidly changing work environments are all critical in the workplace of the future. Leaders who can quickly yet effectively think, decide and inspire will be critical to keep up with these fast-changing competitive demands.
In a few years we will have more advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics. These developments will transform how we work and live. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow and entirely new jobs that don’t exist today will be created. What is certain is that the future workforce will need to align its skill set to keep pace.
Change waits for no one. But planning for the future and acting now to strengthen your soft skills will help future-proof your career and differentiate you in the hyper-changing workplace of tomorrow.
The writer is external communications manager, Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, Switzerland.