Talent for tomorrow: A perfect blend of Soft + Hard Skills

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According to a 2016 report by World Economic Forum, about 5 million jobs will disappear due to automation by 2020. While initially, people talked about automation killing the human race & jobs, the conversation has now moved to the real-world application of Machine Learning  & Artificial Intelligence. Most of us have realized that this change is inevitable and rather than denying or fearing it, it is best to equip ourselves and our workforce with the necessary skills.

“The people who have the best combination of technical, linguistic, mathematical & people skills will continue to emerge as leaders. It is our skill and ability to engage & disengage that will ultimately define our success & sanity in this world that will continue to move at an insane pace.”

Most workplaces today are defined by features such as a digital economy, Self led individuals/teams; fluid & flexible job definitions; iterative outcomes and quick rewards/results. The question is what are the skills necessary to adapt to such a rapidly changing, tech capable, creative & responsive environment. While hard skills are important, it is the non-cognitive factors that are becoming supremely necessary. Lets look at what is this perfect blend of hard & soft skills that will help us thrive in the years to come –

HARD SKILLS

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine learning (ML) – In future, machines will replace any predictable activity that can be performed better & more efficiently by them. People who gain expertise in communicating, dealing, managing & fixing machines to deliver increased value will gain significant edge over others.
  • Biometrics, Cyber security & Cyber Clean Up–  Every click, move, mail is trackable so everything that you do is no more private. As data becomes as valuable as the next level currency, the need to beef up security & protection becomes more and more important. Surveillance, Cybersecurity & Biometrics are some skills that might be of great demand in the near future. As more and more of your private life can be tracked at any point of time, the need for cleaning up your tracks as well as Data Forensics will become as important as security itself.
  • Data science/Big data & Data Analytics – As organisations digitally transform themselves, there is data tracking us all the time. Obtaining, protecting & accessing data is important. However, the key is to understand & gain insights that can drive more informed & better decisions. No more speculation or guess work but only numbers do the talking. Therefore, Data Analytics & Critical Thinking become great skills for the future.
  • Software development – Code will always run the world. Every app, website & machine that we use is powered by code. The role of the developer & agile development as a trend is set to continue.  Right from technical support to a project manager, you need to “speak the language.”  It would be impossible to manage or support what you can’t understand.
  • Branding & Digital Marketing- We are living in an Image & Influencers driven world. Each individual as well as each organization wants to be a brand that can grab attention & differentiate in a crowded space online. As brand loyalties diminish, reaching out, engaging & keeping loyal customers is becoming a challenge. Creating, Curating & Managing Digital Content & Strategies that can help attract & keep audiences is another skill that will thrive in the future.

SOFT SKILLS

While the tech skills help you gain employment, the softer skills – such as People management, Empathy and Communication will help you flourish there.

  • Image Management: Image Management both offline & online needs to be Impeccable. Today’s head hunters perform thorough background checks, they snoop through all your social media presence. While appropriate, attractive & authentic dressing is important for the physical world, there will be a paradigm shift to a whole new skill of ETIQUETTE in the Virtual world. Online meetings, Technology management, Communications ethics etc. will play a key role.
  • Time Management: More and more employers will look for team members who are high on integrity, responsibility, commitment and responsiveness in their absence. As your personal & professional hours keep fading managing different  time zones, we need to develop the skill of maximizing or multiplying the time to be far more productive and save ourselves from a burn out. A work day might transition from 8 hours to 12 hours or may be 16 hours with chunks of work life balance that take care of our health, family & peace.
  • Adaptability & Resilience – Getting the pulse of the current trends & being responsive and adaptive will be another key skill. Specializations will no longer be enough for problem solving. Careers & Job descriptions might change or rotate every few years, one will need to embrace resilience and develop skills to navigate and find comfort in ambiguous situations. Collaboration, rapidly forming, multi-disciplinary and borderless teams is the way work will be increasingly structured. People who are self led as well as those who can put the organizational vision ahead of their personal goals and work cohesively as a team will be valued far more than those clinging to their individual egos.
  • Empathy & Emotional Intelligence: Both Data & Technology have the potential to erode our sense of empathy. Companies will be looking for more and more emotionally intelligent leaders who will help them build & maintain this lost Empathy.
  • Selling & Negotiation – The art & science of selling and negotiation will always remain an insanely valuable skill. In future, people will increasingly function as brands and those that will be able to stand out & sell their ideas, products for themselves or their companies will have a significant strategic advantage.

In short, we are nervous, overburdened and overstimulated than ever before. The people who have the best combination of technical, linguistic, mathematical & people skills will continue to emerge as leaders. It is our skill and ability to engage & disengage that will ultimately define our success & sanity in this world that will continue to move at an insane pace.

BONUS SKILLS – MEDITATION, FITNESS & INTEGRITY!


Jyoti Sudhir, Director & Co-founder of InventIndia Innovations Pvt. Ltd. (www.inventindia.com), a global industrial design and development firm. She is currently the Chairperson for CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), Indian Women’s Network, Gujarat. Her entrepreneurial endeavours were recognized at the India International Centre with the Women Entrepreneur National Excellence Award 2016. Jyoti has also been featured amongst the top 30 Women Entrepreneurs in India (2018) to watch out for by THE CEO Magazine.

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