My company has evangelized the importance of soft skills training for years. It’s what we do. Not to be dramatic, but it’s what we live for. Early on, talking about soft skills required a lot of introductory education on the definition and practical use of soft skills. Only then, were we able to move on to more business-related conversations. The term and the importance have now, thankfully, become ubiquitous. Recently however, I’ve seen a decided rise in the number of people evangelizing the soft skill arts, and it’s all thanks to the robots. Well, and Mark Cuban.
The robots are coming. In fact, in most manufacturing industries, they’ve been here already for quite a while. We are an automated society and will only become more so in the future. Drone deliveries and driver-less cars are only a small step. The rise of artificial intelligence means a paradigm shift is coming in how the world works and how we humans will place ourselves in it.
According to an article by Megan Beck and Barry Libert in Harvard Business Review, the rise in AI will provide better and faster medical diagnosis's and more savvy money management decisions as well as a complete restructuring of manufacturing and logistics. What AI won’t be able to replicate is relationships. The smart machines won’t be able empathize or inspire humans forward. “It’s these human capabilities that will become more and more prized over the next decade. Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks.”
Dallas Mavericks owner and tech super-guru Mark Cuban, also believes that the rise of AI will provide new opportunities for liberal arts students. According to Renee Morad, Contributor to Forbes, Cuban states, "I personally think there's goingto be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors and maybe even engineering," he said. "When the data is all being spit out for you for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data.”
In our Digital Age, even with the rise of the robots, humans are not and will not become obsolete. It is incumbent on us to look at and to look past the next couple of years to understand how our job market is going to change. We need to start thinking right now how we’re going to prepare our workforce with not just the technical skills needed to get a job, but with the human skills that will allow them to compete in widely changing job markets for the rest of their lives.
Also, there's the whole "...Terminator/gotta take down SkyNet" thing...
LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics headquartered in Charleston, SC. Her company utilizes theatre strategies to train humans to grow more profitable conversations with other humans.