Beyond Automation

How language and soft skills drive success in the age of machines

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In this whitepaper

  • The impact of automation on the workforce

  • Recruiting for soft skills

  • Developing communication skills in the age of machines
  • The machine-human future is bright

developing a flexible workforce

Transforming the workforce to meet challenges brought about by automation

The workforce is facing an unprecedented rate of automation. Forecasts are alarming – IBM predicts 120 million workers in the world’s largest 12 economies will need to be reskilled during the next three years, as a result of new technological innovations.

Automation of people’s jobs is not new. In the first industrial revolution, machines took over agricultural and manufacturing jobs. However, the advent of intelligent software and robotics looks set to dwarf the impact of previous industrial revolutions on jobs. Consultancy firm McKinsey suggests that by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers (3 to 14% of the global workforce) will need to switch occupational categories as a result of automation, while 60% of occupations have at least 30% of constituent work activities that could be automated.

Recruiting for soft skills

Recruiting for soft skills is becoming increasingly important as training employees in more complex soft skills takes longer than traditional vocational training. IBM has found that globally, in 2014, the median time it took to close a capability gap through training in the enterprise was three days. In 2018, the median was 36 days. IBM researchers believe that behavioral skills, such as teamwork, communication, creativity, and empathy must be consolidated through real-world experience rather than relying on a learning program and this takes time. There is no doubt that blended learning, combining digital learning on demand, coaching, mentoring and peer learning is the most effective way of delivering soft skills learning, particularly foreign language skills.

The machine-human future is bright

Strategic use of intelligent technology will lead to a bright future for us all. Early AI adopters achieve higher profit margins and ROI on learning. The boring, repetitive parts of jobs will disappear, leaving more time for employees to use human skills to work more effectively. Using intelligent technology to increase the value of human capital is key to success. Rather than replacing human jobs, AI in conjunction with human soft skills can improve performance and increase revenue. Navigating the new machine-human landscape demands high-level human skills. A business model that invests in ongoing language and communication skills as well as the latest intelligent technology will ultimately deliver success.

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