Future-Proof Your Career in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
A day doesn’t go by without another prediction that highlights the influence of technology on jobs. Experts at McKinsey predict that as many as 70 million jobs in the U.S. could be impacted by automation by 2030; in contrast, Gartner reports that artificial intelligence (AI) may create more jobs than it eliminates. One thing is certain: we are in a period of unprecedented change, and these stats are enough to give anyone pause about the long-term relevance of their skills and abilities.
AI and machine learning (ML) are changing our way of life in more ways than the invention of the PC, the rise of the internet, or the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets. It’s exciting to see how AI has the potential to take away the mundane tasks associated with our lives and jobs, as well as its potential to boost productivity and create entirely new industries. But it’s also a huge shift, and can cause some uneasiness when we think about the future of the workplace.
Does the rise of AI mean we’re preparing for a future of mass joblessness? Simply put, no.
Let’s start with this reality: AI will make us more efficient, but the workplace still very much values the human touch. In fact, according to an Adobe study, 70 percent of American office workers believe that face-to-face contact is required to do their jobs well. Almost 80 percent believe that the successful workers of the future will excel at collaboration. We all have the opportunity to continue to hone our uniquely human skillsets that machines will not demonstrate.
Whether you are still in school, making your way through a degree, or have decades of experience in the workplace, here are three areas to develop to remain relevant in an emerging AI workplace and world:
- Emotional Intelligence: When we talk about uniquely human skillsets, EQ or emotional quotient, also referred to as emotional intelligence, is the pinnacle. Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist, defines EQ as the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them, and how to work cooperatively with them.
More than ever before, EQ is being recognized as equally or more valuable than IQ to long-term success. People ultimately want to interact — they do not want to follow a machine, literally or figuratively. Across businesses and industries, we need people with a high EQ at all levels within organizations.
2. Creative problem-solving: Redefining problems and opportunities, coming up with new approaches, and taking action are key characteristics of creative problem-solving. Unlike tech trends that come and go, problem-solving skills are always relevant. Adobe surveyed 2,000 educators and education policymakers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Japan, and 86 percent of those surveyed said they believe that students who excel at creative problem-solving will have opportunities for higher-earning jobs in the future. Seventy-five percent predicted that professions requiring creative problem-solving are less likely to be impacted by automation. Beyond problem-solving, creativity itself is another distinctly human trait that will continue to benefit you in the short and long-term.
3. Curiosity and flexibility: With the pace of change in the workplace, employees who continue to challenge themselves to learn new skills and techniques — those who continue to push the leading edge of their expertise — have a competitive advantage. These individuals are open to breaking out of their comfort zones and trying completely new areas. Curiosity and flexibility have always been important, but in the age of AI they are exponentially more critical. As businesses experiment with the benefits of AI, employees need to be on a constant quest to deliver a higher level of value.
Automation and AI will change the nature of many jobs — AND create many new opportunities. While some of the best jobs of the future simply don’t yet exist, the need for these uniquely human skills will remain important to job growth and stability for years to come. Ongoing education, exposure to different cultures, developing and maintaining a diverse network of peers, and proactively seeking out feedback will allow you to hone your uniquely human skills that no machine can match. Regardless of how AI may or may not impact the workplace, demonstrating emotional intelligence, empathy, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and the ability to adapt will serve you well for building a long, prosperous career.