The Future of Jobs 2025: Are You Ready?
The robotic revolution is upon us and its impact has just been confirmed by the World Economic Forum’s report that was published last month on the Future of Jobs through 2025. While this has been a trend for several years now, we can see how the COVID pandemic is ramping up the use of technologies in a wide variety of sectors. And, as many sci-fi movies have warned us, these technologies are increasingly displacing human workers.
We have known for a long time that redundant jobs such as administrative secretaries, payroll clerks, and factory workers are largely affected by automation and the increase of technology within the job market. Roles like these, which are focused on repetitiveness and manual skills, have been on a rapid decline for years. Even more so now, with 50% of employers saying that they will accelerate the automation of work.
However, with rapid innovations occurring in the field of AI, we are seeing that even white-collar jobs are at risk. Jobs that require cognitive function are also on track to be taken over by technology. As Jerry Kaplan once said: “automation is blind to the color of your collar.”
But there is no need to be afraid, as there is still space for human workers. The increase in technology applications means that there are emerging industries that are providing new opportunities, with an estimated 97 million new roles to be created by 2025. And while these technology-based industries seem as though they are all about hard skills, this could not be further from the truth.
While interpersonal roles like Customer Success Specialist, Talent Management, and Head of Employee Success require soft skills needed to interact with others we must also think about another use for soft skills: human-machine interaction. Now that interactions between humans and technology are increasing, jobs in this field are forging a spot in the job market.
Not only do we need these soft skills to interact with humans, but also to interact and understand the technology that is being used more in the workplace. The rising use of robots and AI has created a new cluster of jobs that require a humanistic point of view to improve how we can relate to new technology.
This should be great news! It means that humanity will make it through!
Well, we’re not completely out of the woods yet. Another challenge that companies are facing is finding employees with the key competencies to take on these emerging roles, which they described as a “skills shortage” of 55.4%. The lack of people with the skill sets needed to take on these new positions leads to the assumption that about 50% of employees will need to be reskilled, according to the report.
Maybe the problem is that most people have been trained to have a different set of skills, preparing for a work environment with less technological advancement.
Our training began at school, where, as children, we were taught to accept what our teacher said. We were taught to be “excellent sheep”: learning through memorization and not being encouraged to question what we were taught. The educational system we currently have in place doesn’t focus on the development of questioning and critical thinking skills that we now need in the workplace.
An intense technology culture already prevents kids from developing soft skills as well. Instead of socializing in person, they lose themselves behind screens. Now, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we are even more at risk of stunting soft skills development. We have been forced to reduce many of our human communication and interactions to take place in an online environment. Schools are now mostly without in-person classes, meaning we have lost a key space that helped us develop soft skills through peer interaction.
What Are These New Skills?
Some of the skills that have been rapidly increasing in importance are critical thinking, originality, flexibility, resilience, ideation, and emotional intelligence, to mention a few. This signals a notable shift from the technical skills that we are accustomed to seeing, to more soft skills that require current employees to modify their mindset as a whole, ultimately evolving to develop a growth mindset. This means understanding that skills can be developed over time and that we are never stuck in with a certain skill set.
The rapid increase of technology into our everyday lives, and the new cluster of jobs related to human-computer interaction, sees people with heightened interest in exploration into the topic. But this is not just limited to engineers. Artists have also been studying this relationship by incorporating technology into their work and starting to use different technologies as their medium.
Both explore similar themes: how can we build more engaging technologies, and how can we make them relatable to humans? Is it possible to build trust between humans and robots? Each question requires an understanding of humans and technology.
For example, the artists Madeline Gannon and Liat Sigal have both incorporated familiar, personal elements to technology so that they seem to be more in touch with humanity. Through their work, we can see how technology and humanity can exist side-by-side instead of opposing each other. Ganon’s work incorporates industrial robots into everyday lives. As an artist who walks the walk, she is currently building her home so that industrial robots cohabitate space with her family (listen to her here).
This shift to online, coupled with the implementation of technology in a variety of other sectors is making these skills more needed than ever. But the way we are currently taught focuses on manual and technical skills that were needed during the industrial revolution. Many of these skills that the World Economic Forum foresee in the future are often being taught outside the classroom and are instead things that are essential to practice in our day to day lives.
How Can We Build These Skills?
There has been an immense focus among the currently employed workforce to reskill themselves to stay competitive within the evolving job market, with a notable rise in online course registration. Many companies report that they are providing upskilling and reskilling resources to 62% of their workforce, but that employee engagement with these courses is lagging with only 42% of employees taking advantage of the opportunity.
Just think about the times you may have started a course, but stopped after a couple of lessons. Sitting in a lecture is not what anyone imagines doing in their free time.
However, we at The Artian believe that there is also another way to improve the soft skills that companies want to see within their employees. It may come as a surprise to some (or not) that this way stems from the engagement with art and the development of an art mindset.
If we were to think about some of the most important emerging skills – originality, ideation, creativity, innovation, or emotional intelligence – we would instantly be reminded of the work of artists such as Segal and Ganon. Dealing with art fosters many of the skills that the report talks about.
Artistic environments are one of the few that encourage originality in all its forms, which pushes artists to churn out new ideas and fully realize them. Developing new ways of creating and experiencing emotion encompasses many of the other skills that the report mentions such as ideation, resilience, and flexibility.
Interacting with art has also been shown to increase emotional intelligence, making us more empathetic to others. We can connect this to the fact that most forms of art are designed to affect our emotions in some way, or that the creation of art usually flows from our own emotional centers.
This is because art is not an object. It isn’t limited to putting paint on canvas or snapping a photo at the right time. Art is a mindset that encourages us to challenge the world around us, and connect with it on new levels. By implementing a mindset that encourages this way of thinking, companies can improve their work environment and cultivate the necessary soft skills among their employees.
And you don’t have to be a professional artist to practice these skills. There are simple steps that we can take to incorporate an artistic mindset into our daily lives. Taking time each day to question the world around us, treating each idea as a valid possibility and staying curious about other disciplines is a way for employees to work toward staying relevant in a technological future.
Access the World Economic Forum Full report here and develop your artistic mindset by listening to our podcast.
Stay tuned to future articles, where we will discuss how developing an artistic mindset can help in the development of each of these skills.
 Whalley, Jeanine. The Arts as a Means of Increasing Emotional Intelligence in Teens. 2009 https://www.wcmt.org.uk/sites/default/files/migrated-reports/738_1.pdf