Tue, 16 January, 2024
A common perception among workers is that workplace AI mainly brings job insecurity (Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 138, January 2019, Pages 155-165) and AI supports organisations to automate and fast track technological advancements.
The ‘skills theory’, influenced by the leadership literature (Katz, 1974; Peterson and Fleet, 2004), interestingly clusters the skills required to coexist with AI into three major categories: technical, human, and conceptual (Sowa et al., 2021). AI significantly improves efficiency when supported by workers with strong technical skills, but will always be lacking in those human or conceptual skills that are applied across a range of jobs. These cannot be overlooked as they are what makes the human factor irreplaceable by technology.
Human skills are required when working with people and refer to how people connect and interact with each other (Katz, 1974; Peterson and Fleet, 2004); empathetic communication, managing people, coordinating with others, leadership, emotional intelligence, knowledge sharing, teamwork, adaptability, collaboration, delegation and negotiating. These are proven to support the workspace through the building of lasting relationships, positive conflict resolution, motivation and inspiration, transforming workplaces into safe, welcoming and positively productive spaces that inspire trust. Now these skills will be required to redefine team management by incorporating the relationship, interaction and collaboration between workers and smart robots/systems. We expect new models of teams’ composition to emerge from this interaction.
Conceptual skills refer to the ability of people to visualise, analyse and synthesise while working with concepts, ideas, topics, etc. into developing solutions and expressing new ideas; complex problem-solving, analytical thinking and innovation, active learning, critical thinking and analysis, creativity and initiative, judgment and decision-making, data analysis, synthesis and sense-making, and cognitive flexibility. Creativity in discovering new concepts, trends and relationships will forever remain with people (Klotz, 2018; Koren and Klamma, 2018; Leavy, 2019) making this probably the most sought after skill in the years to come. Automation and AI systems, are expected to introduce new ways of improving creativity and innovation, but it is up to the visionaries and the creatives of the world to lead the way.
The weight falls on businesses and educational institutions as to how they can educate, train or allow the creative freedom for their employees to hone in and expand their soft skills as they try to adjust in the new era of industry 5.0.
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