Skills You Need for Staying Employable
Despite the Automation Onslaught

See also: Innovation Skills

Truly innovative, groundbreaking technological innovations bring massive changes with them. A few of these that come to mind include the printing press, the automobile, the television and the mobile phone.

There’s a pattern that has emerged in the wake of truly revolutionary technologies such as these. Each one of these innovations had the effect of disrupting peoples’ jobs but, at the same time, creating new ones – and, in fact, in some cases, even creating entirely new industries.

With every year that passes, more and more of these revolutionary innovations are released into the global marketplace. Many of the latest ones are automation technologies that make work perpetually easier. Machines can now do many of the world’s most boring, repetitive and unpopular tasks.

The result of these rapid changes: There will inevitably be fewer “easy” jobs for humans to work at in the future, and the remaining jobs will be ones that are more intellectually demanding.

Let’s take a look at an example from the past. Before the rise of the printing press, we had scribes. Being a scribe was relatively easy work that involved copying texts for both preservation and dissemination.

After the printing press was widely popularized, work for scribes generally became unavailable. However, a whole new industry arose: the publishing industry.

Work in that industry eventually became plentiful. The jobs currently available in the industry are relatively intellectually demanding compared to a scribe’s work. The industry employs editors, copywriters and publicists, and all of these professionals need to invest a great deal of creativity and intellectual capacity into their work.

What do you think all those scribes did for work after their employment opportunities dried up?

So, what is the situation we’re facing now? Today’s onslaught of new technologies will leave us with many unemployed scribe-types who will need to acquire new skills. In most cases, the skills they’ll need will have to prepare them to work in more intellectually demanding roles than they’ve been accustomed to. Let’s take a look at some of the highest priority skills that a worker is likely to need for remaining employable as new technologies displace many aspects of our current jobs:

1. The Ability to Upskill

In the future, one of the most important skills a person will need is the ability to quickly learn and perfect new skills. You’ll have an edge over others if you’re easily able to figure out new apps, navigate new software, operate new gadgets and quickly implement new systems that become available.

  • Teaching Yourself New Skills: Self-directed learning will be an important part of upskilling for many workers. Nowadays, there’s an abundance of useful educational material available that you can use for teaching yourself new skills. You have many available books, videos, podcasts, articles and newsletters that could help you get up to speed on virtually any topic you want to learn about.

  • Obtaining Relevant Certifications: Both tech companies and professional organizations make certification programs available so that interested people can gain the cutting-edge, up-to-date skills needed for success. Certifications are particularly important for people working in industries where knowledge is rapidly accelerating, like the tech sector.

  • Seeking Out Relevant Training Programs or Degrees: Higher education has never been more relevant than it is now. Many people gain an edge in the corporate world by obtaining advanced degrees in their field of specialization.

  • Making the Most of Available Resources: With all the information that’s currently available, it has become challenging to sift through it all. This has prompted an entire niche of industries that exist for the purpose of helping people to easily access the information they need.

An example is, a portal that exists for the purpose of organizing the free and low-cost Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) that are available from prominent universities including Harvard, MIT and Boston University.

In a world where upskilling must be a perpetual endeavor, it is highly beneficial for workers to become familiar with, and to use, time-saving resources such as these.

2. Analytical Skills

Employers greatly value individuals who are able to propose viable solutions to the problems their organizations are facing. Problem-solving requires a complex combination of aptitudes including observation, analysis and logical reasoning.

At this point in time, analytical skills are in strong demand and short supply. If you’re able to successfully cultivate these elusive skills, they’ll definitely be an asset in your ongoing future employability.

3. Communication Skills

It isn’t enough to generate good ideas and come up with viable solutions for problems; you have to also be able to communicate these ideas and solutions to the executives at your organization. Persuasive speaking skills are particularly beneficial, because you’ll basically have to sell your ideas to the other people on your team.

Listening skills are even more crucial. An ability to accurately parse non-verbal communications is also an important key to success.

4. Leadership Skills

There are relatively few people who are able to motivate the people around them to do the best work they’re capable of. This is a skill that employers value and will continue to seek out.

5. Personal Branding Skills

To advance in many occupations, it isn’t enough to simply be good at what you do. You also have to learn how to be something of a self-promoter. However, you have to manage to do this in a way that adds value for other people; under no circumstances should it ever just be blatantly obnoxious self-promotion.

Many of the world’s most influential people have built successful personal brands through media: book authorship, videos, podcasts, blogs, public speaking engagements, workshop teaching engagements or some combination of the above. Nowadays, it’s also possible to do this through social media engagement with other people. The key is becoming known as an expert in your field, and this can easily be accomplished by simply sharing interesting insights about your industry with other people via your chosen media, either online or offline.

6. Empathy for Others

There are certain occupations, like nursing, that require human empathy. These are occupations where humans are likely to retain their employability, because so far, automation technologies have no capacity to display genuine empathy.

7. Tech Skills

Many high-demand occupational niches are currently found in the tech sector. In particular, there are ongoing shortages of people who have cybersecurity skills and data science skills. The ability to implement rising technologies such as blockchain is also an asset. Cultivating expertise in these niches now could help to ensure your future long-term employability as employers scramble to beat out their competitors in the implementation of new technologies.

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.

The Bottom Line: Cultivate Skills That Make You Human

In the future, employers are likely to be using machines for as many tasks as possible. It is probably futile to try to compete with machines for work on these types of tasks. Instead, you’ll want to embrace and sharpen the human-centric skills that machines don’t possess.

Make it your goal to be an indispensable employee because you’re capable of doing things that employers value as well as things that cannot easily be automated.

About the Author

Andrej is an entrepreneur, a digital marketer and an avid internet technologist. Throughout his career, Andrej has combined his passion for cutting-edge technology with a keen eye for emerging industry trends to deliver customised marketing solutions to businesses and clients around the globe.

He believes that the key to modern marketing excellence is a constant willingness to learn and adapt to the ever-changing digital world.