Soft skills in the workforce
By Cegos Team the 6 December 2019
Nobody can doubt that technology is changing the way we work. According to McKinsey, in 2030 the demand for technological skills will climb by 55%, so it’s a great time to get a job in the tech industry.
Artificial intelligence and soft skills
The rise of technology is having another effect on our workforce – an increasing demand for soft skills. The term ‘soft skills’ is difficult to visualise, given that it covers those intangible skills such as leadership, collaboration and communication. Cegos, a long-time promoter of soft skills, defines them as “behavioural skills…a set of interpersonal, situational and emotional abilities that help the company and its people cope with the complexity and unpredictability of the world around them.”
As technology and artificial intelligence continues to replace jobs traditionally done by humans, so the human touch is becoming increasingly valued in other areas.
LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, in an interview with Inc. says: “As powerful as AI will ultimately become and is becoming, we’re still miles away from computers being able to replicate and replace human interaction and human touch.” There is a great incentive for people to develop soft skills, he says, as jobs that depend on them will be “more stable for a longer period of time”.
In a recent report, Conseil d’Orientation pour l’Emploi (COE) note that “three skills groups should all be mobilised in an economy which has been radically changed by the conversion of artificial intelligence and Big Data.”
So, what are these skills? In addition to specialist and new technological skills, the Conseil lists ‘cross-cutting’ skills, which include :
- social skills (teamwork, social intelligence, etc.)
- situational skills (autonomy, learning how to learn).
McKinsey says these skills will increase by 8% within the next decade. Not at the same rate as technical skills, but nonetheless a significant growth in demand.
Time to act
The reasons why company leaders are now taking soft skills seriously are clear. When their people are armed with a strong set of soft skills, their organisation becomes more competitive. And a smart workforce is a productive workforce.
Yet there is a challenge here because too many people do not possess the right level of soft skills to become fully productive. According to a Bloomberg study back in 2018, four in 10 organisations say that recent graduates lack the soft skills they need to be successful. They cite emotional intelligence, complex reasoning, negotiation and persuasion as being highly valued skills that should be developed.
Cegos recently released a white paper – ‘Future of Soft Skills’ – in which we examine the benefits of boosting soft skills in your workforce. As well as increased competitiveness, companies can look forward to higher retention rates and better productivity. Employees feel more in control of their professional lives, too, and are more content as a result.
There is also a whole section on the 7 key skills that will help transform your organisation in the future, plus on how to successfully implement them into the working environment.
Acquiring soft skills takes lots of practice and guidance, so when you create a framework that allows your people to develop those skills whilst on the job, you can expect a greater level of success.
What better way to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow?
If you would like to learn more about our soft skills programmes, contact us for more details.