Why soft skills are becoming increasingly useful

by L&D18 Aug 2016
From legal work to pizza delivery, it seems that no profession is immune to developments in artificial intelligence.
While such advances increase operational efficiency, they don’t eliminate the demand for soft skills in the workplace.

“When we look at the skills automation is taking over, they are usually hard or technical skills. Soft skills are a lot more difficult to automate or outsource,” said Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.

“So it is soft skills that will add to your value in the years ahead. This includes communication, team work, adaptability, creative thinking and relationship building skills.

“With employers already looking closely at candidates’ soft skills, it seems the value of the human touch is growing even greater in an automated world of work.”

Indeed, a new survey by Hays has found that 52% of Australians ‘definitely’ think their job will be impacted by AI and automation in the next 10 years.

A further 27% said that ‘maybe’ their job will be impacted, while 21% do not believe their job will be impacted at all.

Deligiannis added that automation and artificial intelligence have already begun to impact many companies, from automated self-service checkouts in retail stores to assembly lines in manufacturing plants.

“But with automation and AI replacing or taking over manual and repetitive tasks, this will leave employees free to focus on the non-routine and more advanced aspects of their job,” said Deligiannis.

“There’s also the possibility that robots and AI could be used as another tool to help us do our job better, rather than replace us. In this context, automation could be viewed as an enabler, helping us to be more efficient.”

It is also apparent that continuous up-skilling is the key to remaining relevant in the job market. However, Deligiannis warned that it’s not only technical or hard skills employees will need to focus on.

Andrew Morris, director of Robert Half, previously told L&D Professional that conflict resolution and communications skills are very popular with employees at the moment.

“It’s really the soft skills that people seem to get a lot out of,” Morris said.

“Obviously the operational skills are also very important, but those people who are able to develop their communications skills are often the same people who are able to progress through an organisation.”

With regards to lawyers, the director of Vario ( the legal resourcing branch of the law firm Pinsent Masons) Matthew Kay, said earlier this year that the time has come for lawyers to seriously consider how to differentiate themselves from their robot counterparts.

“Forming close and meaningful relationships with clients has always been hugely important in the legal sector,” said Kay.
“But with the rise of artificial intelligence and robots carrying out tasks in law firms, it will become more vital than ever for firms to ensure all their lawyers sharpen their own emotional intelligence.”