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Human Skills Vs Artificial Intelligence

20 Jun 2019

Aoife O'Donovan

Human skills are more important than ever in an age of Artificial Intelligence. At a time where tech skills are becoming more and more of a necessity, one thing that companies should never forget about is human skills.

I recently attended the CIPD conference, where Tara Levins from Accenture spoke about the future of the workforce in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.  The phrase “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” was first coined by the founder of the world economic forum, Klaus Schwab in 2015. The former professor described this as an era marked by a “technological revolution that is blurring the lines between psychical, digital and biological spheres”. According to a 2017 McKinsey report, over 800 million jobs will be replaced by automation by 2030 and that figure seems to be moving upwards with every new report on AI.

However, this comes with a warning. While tech skills are becoming an essential rather than an advantage, companies and hiring managers should never forget the importance of human skills.

Artificial intelligence in the workplace has already started to make our jobs easier for the most part. However, there are still limits to what current generations of AI can achieve. It will be a very long time before a machine will be able to fully replace people and relegate humanity. An algorithm can’t tell when your potential candidate may not be a good fit with your team, when they are having a bad day, or how to be compassionate towards them. A machine can tell if they may have the right CV, but, for now that’s its limit. The question of cultural fit is always one for humans, rather than machines. 

Organisations constantly struggle to hire, develop and retain talent across many industries. As such they need to invest in their people in order to do so. Lower level repetitive jobs are becoming automated. This has begun putting increasing numbers of less skilled people out of work. At the same time the number of higher skilled jobs are increasing. Organisations are already at war for the top talent required to fill these positions and this is driving wages up. To meet the skill demands on these jobs, organisations need to invest in upskilling their current workforce to meet their hiring requirements.

As a recruiter, I see more and more open positions such as “Talent Development” and “Organisational Development”. These roles are essential to any organisation whatever large or small. They need to ensure that the future of the work place is well equipped not just with developers and engineers, but with humans; people who know how to grow talent, motivate people, lead change in the workplace, have the ability to mediate, and who have experience with dealing with major grievances and show compassion towards their employees.

Organisations need to be able to arm themselves for the future that is artificial intelligence, and they need to equip their teams with people to lead, guide and advise in this massive sea-change that will occur in the next few years.

Aoife O’Donovan is a Senior Consultant with Brightwater’s Human Resources division and can be contacted via LinkedIn, on 01 6621000 or at a.odonovan@brightwater.ie